Mandatory student registration and membership advisory panel will be considered as amendments for next register contract that will come into effect from April 2019
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) expects to unveil a preferred candidate by July to oversee the new Gas Safe Register contract, with the first stage of its ongoing retender process expected to close on February 14.
HSE said that despite considering changes such as a member advisory panel and requiring trainees to register with the programme, no other major overhauls can be considered for the next register contract without having to restart the tender process.
The current 10-year contract for the register, which lists gas engineers registered to legally work in the UK, has been managed by Capita Gas Registration and Ancillary Services (CGRAS). The agreement expires on March 31, 2019.
A single provider to oversee the scheme for a five-year period commencing in 2019 in both mainland Britain and Northern Ireland is now being sought. Interested parties have until next week to complete a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire to be part of the competition.
HSE said the final shape of the proposed five-year contract is still subject to change. The tender process will consider amendments such as the introduction of an advisory panel made up of the register’s membership that could make use of tools such as webinars and online voting to make formal representations to the HSE.
There is also ongoing discussions on a possible mandatory student registration requirement with the contracted provider of the next register expected to carry out a feasibility study during the first year of the agreement to introduce the change.
These amendments could be included along with the existing responsibilities of maintaining the Gas Safe Register, monitoring engineer competence, promoting awareness of gas safety risks and funding the Gas Safety Charity.
Further changes to UK safety standards and compliance requirements could yet also impact gas safety issues.
An Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety that was announced by the government following the Grenfell Tower fire last June is expected to set out recommendations in the Spring to overhaul a regulatory system that it deems to be ‘not fit for purpose’.
Concerns around defining responsibility for compliance on construction projects and revisions to the current enforcement of safety standards are among key focuses the review will consider.
However, the HSE said it could not comment on the potential long-term impact of the review’s findings on the future of the register until the final report was unveiled.
The organisation said, “We are not considering any further review regarding the future services concession agreement. We are already into the procurement process. Any significant changes to the requirements at this stage would require us to restart the procurement process.”
An Invitation to Tender for the Gas Safe Register contract will be sent to a select number of applicants on March 8. A deadline of April 30 is set for tender submissions, according to an HSE spokesperson.
These bidders will then be shortlisted down to three providers during May with final offers needing to be submitted by July 6.
HSE said in a statement, “We plan to identify the preferred bidder on July 20, after which we will need to go through a series of internal approvals, including Treasury approval.”
The chosen candidate is scheduled to sign a services concession agreement by early October.
Following on from the collapse of construction giant Carillion last month, current contractor Capita issued a significant profit warning over the last seven days. The warning has intensified scrutinty over the government’s approach and reliance of outsourcing key infrastructure projects, as well as functions such as the Gas Safe Register, to private sector partnerships.
The HSE said that in the case of considering major outsourcers for the contract such as Capita, which has interests in a large number of infrastructure projects and other commercial enterprises, it would be applying the same considerations to all bidders around potential conflicts of interest.
The organisation added, “where any are identified, we will require bidders to propose how they will mitigate them.”