2Contracts, Specifications, and Standards

I repeat an earlier statement that every investigation is essentially an audit—a comparison of what is to what should be. A forensic investigator will examine the evidence with that perspective in mind. From this viewpoint, any harm, injury, or breach resulting from a failed unit or from a contracted performance is an effect. The root cause will be determined by investigating the performance according to accepted industrial practice. For example, a metallurgist may examine a failed jet vane for metal fatigue. A systems analyst may examine the nonconformance of a process. In every case the forensic systems analyst must have an understanding of the applicable references: contracts, specifications, and standards.

2.1 General

In law, a contract is a formal agreement between parties to enter into reciprocal obligations. It is not necessary that a contract be in writing; verbal contracts are equally enforceable in law. However, in this book we are concerned with written contracts, and in particular, with contracts of performance. One party agrees to pay another party to do something, usually in a certain way and within a specified time. The first party may be called the customer; the second the performer, provider, or in this book, the company.

Necessarily then, conditions are imposed upon the performance. ...

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