APPG releases report on improving the public procurement of Buildings

The All Party Group for Excellence in the Built Environment has released its report looking at the age old question of improving the public procurement of buildings.

Perhaps not an auspicious start with the proposed meeting with Frances Maude at the Cabinet Office having been postponed from 11 September.

The report’s recommendations are:

Recommendation 1. More time and resource must be given to the development of a project brief (with clients asking themselves, why do we need this building or infrastructure, what do we need and what is the best way of ensuring we get what we need). (Section 3.1 page 15)
Clients must also ensure they allocate sufficient resource to the overall project management by themselves or a management partner, to reduce risk and create a successful outcome. (Section 3.1 page 15)

Recommendation 2. BSI has introduced a new British Standard BS 8534 – Construction Procurement Policies, Strategies and Procedures, which provides excellent guidance which public bodies would do well to follow. (Good practice 2 page 17)

Recommendation 3. The Government, through the Chief Construction Adviser, should set up a Best Practice Procurement Advisory Group to assist inexperienced public sector clients (including Government departments, agencies, non-departmental public bodies and local government) to define their objectives clearly and adopt appropriate procurement arrangements for the size and type of project. Infrequent clients would also benefit from appointing a professional adviser to develop the brief as we move to outcome based specification. (Section 3.1 page 15)

Recommendation 4. Projects must be procured on the basis of integrated teams (designers, contractors and, if appropriate, asset managers) with the ability of teams to work together as one of the selection criteria within a balanced scorecard (see Recommendation 6 below). (Section 3.2.1 page 18)

Recommendation 5. At the same time, a dialogue between clients and the design team in contractor-led procurement is to be encouraged while designs are being developed. Clients must also ensure that they and their project management team (if they have one) meet the nominated individuals of their lead consultants and contractors and have the ability to accept/reject on the basis of culture/fit. (Section 3.2.1 page 18)

Recommendation 6. Selection of an integrated team must not be made on the basis of lowest price but, like the construction of the venues for London 2012, on the basis of a balanced scorecard; that is, marking the bid against specified criteria, of which sustainability should be one. (Section 3.2.2 page 20)

Recommendation 7. Large-scale public projects (e.g. more than £100m in value) should have mandatory construction commitments, based on the 2012 Construction Commitments, on which they would be required to report over the duration of the project. At the same time, Government should encourage voluntary adoption of such construction commitments across a wide range of public and private sector projects with a programme of promotional activity, including awards, to highlight and celebrate success. Key indicators could include: client leadership, sustainability, team integration, design quality, health and safety, and commitment to people, which includes a commitment to employing local people and excellent facilities. (Section 3.2.2 page 20)
A better deal for public building – Page 6

Recommendation 8. Buildings and infrastructure should be procured on the basis of both capital and operating costs. (Section 3.2.2 page 20). Reducing bureaucracy and increasing competition

Recommendation 9. Public sector clients need better guidance to help prevent them from over-interpreting EU procurement rules, which can create barriers to entry and create a tick-box mentality. Clients should also drive out waste in the pre-qualification stage by avoiding disproportionate demands on the bidders. For example, unlimited liability clauses should be expunged. (Section 3.3.1 page 15)

Recommendation 10. Prequalification questionnaires should be sensible in their scope and not exclude small and medium-sized enterprises from appropriate work (Section 3.3.2 page 20).
Increasing efficiency

Recommendation 11. We wholly endorse that the use of Building Information Modelling should be regarded as best practice and mandatory from 2016 across all public projects, and would urge the Government and private sector to put the necessary resources into enabling this capability to be achieved. (Section 3.4 page 29)

Recommendation 12. Post occupancy evaluation should be mandatory on all public sector projects above a minimum value threshold (e.g. £5m), with a focus on assessing performance against design expectations. This will help determine good and bad design practice and help inform design decisions going forward. (Section 3.5.1 page 30) Poor commissioning often leads to performance issues and one way of improving this is to have a phased handover of the building, using a protocol called Soft Landings. (Section 3.5.1 page 30)

Recommendation 13. The Government’s Chief Construction Adviser should be required to prepare an annual report on the performance of public sector clients (including Government departments, agencies, non-departmental public body and local authorities) in construction procurement. This should highlight positive achievements in successful projects, as well as failure to deliver value. The report should be a public document, and should provide the basis for follow-up examinations of public sector clients, which have consistently failed to deliver value for money or failed to improve their performance when benchmarked against other comparable organisations. (Section 3.5.2 page 32)

The full text of the report is here:

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