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Industry responds to ‘revolutionary’ government procurement plans

The government has published a far-reaching construction strategy that leading figures say will revolutionise procurement.

It sets out a host of actions to slash the cost of public sector construction by 20 per cent.

It has been hailed as bringing to an end two decades of reports calling for action to stamp out waste.

Key to achieving the government’s plan are two new procurement models, together with a package of measures on fair payment, cost benchmarking, building information modelling and the provision of data relating to agreed and planned projects.

At the strategy’s core is a move towards cost benchmarking and fully integrated project teams that will bring all parts of the supply chain in at the design stage, with the intention to trial integrated project insurance and focus on whole-life costs.

Announcing the strategy last week, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude (pictured) said the measures would help stimulate growth within the industry by enabling more to be constructed with the funds available.

Implementation of the strategy will be overseen by the new Government Construction Board, chaired by chief construction adviser Paul Morrell.

Mr Morrell said: “The strategy sets out challenging new ways of working that will deliver considerable benefits not only to the taxpayer, but also enabling growth in the industry and better understanding of the future direction for public sector construction.”

The Construction Strategy commits the government to a detailed timeline of implementation. These are centred on four key objectives:

  • The provision of data for all agreed and planned construction projects;
  • Benchmarking the costs of construction in every sector;
  • The adoption of building information modelling;
  • Piloting of new procurement models.

Chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors Association Rudi Klein said the strategy was “the culmination of a journey started 20 years ago” when John Major’s government announced an inquiry into construction procurement.

Mr Klein said the move to integrate project teams would see the end of lump sum bidding, and for the first time bring in the people that delivered 90 per cent of a project’s value at the design stage.