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Hi Gary and David,
I've been venting in the office today about RFI abuses, so how timely is this – let's enjoy the fact too that we're all in RI!
From a portal standpoint, I prefer to use our internal SharePoint site or email. They can manage their subs however they want, but as the administrator of the construction contract, I know what I want for both RFIs and submittals, so I specify what I want: "1. Contractor shall identify preferred method of electronic submittal delivery. Once identified, all electronic submittals shall use the same method. Post electronic submittals as PDF electronic files directly to a) Architects SharePoint site b) Contractor's project web site specifically established for Project (access to be provided to Architect and Owner), or c) submit electronic submittals via email as PDF electronic files. 2. Design Team will return annotated file through email and/or Architect's SharePoint site."
I agree, you need to aggressively manage what is submitted for review. If an RFI is incomplete, I don't hesitate to reject it and indicate it's an incomplete RFI. Sometimes RFIs are really change order requests or incomplete submittals. I do respond to these, but I start with, "this is not an RFI, but is a change request…or a submittal – please provide shop drawing to include the requested items for review."
I also specify when RFIs/submittals will be logged in and considered received. RFIs after 1pm are received the next business day. Submittals after 5pm M-TH and after 2pm F are next business day. I may look at it sooner, but the clock doesn't start counting Friday night on a 3-day weekend - I'm done with those games. I do try to respond to RFIs within a few days, submittals a week or 2 depending on what they are. If the submittal list gets long, I ask the contractor to prioritize them. I include this language in the specification also, so I can cite it when necessary.