Review creates Gold Standard to improve public sector construction

New Gold Standard will have to be met by all future construction frameworks, with action plans to improve existing frameworks.

An independent review creating a new Gold Standard in public sector construction frameworks has been published by the cabinet office. The new Gold Standard will have to be met by all future construction frameworks, with action plans to improve existing frameworks.

The independent review of public sector construction frameworks and the development of the Gold Standard was led by professor David Mosey of King’s College London’s Centre of Construction Law.

The review looked at public sector construction frameworks with a combined value of £180bn and considered more than 120 written submissions and 50 interviews. Analysis found evidence of waste, confusion and duplication in processes as well as too strong a focus on achieving the lowest price, rather than best value.

To tackle these issues, the Gold Standard puts in place 24 recommendations, which must be met by both developers and the public sector. Ministers say these standards will help guarantee projects have improved efficiency and innovation, increased safety standards, a focus on net zero carbon and social value targets.

The standard also sets out how both the government and the construction industry must work together to tackle waste, secure value for money and drive innovation to achieve better, faster, safer and greener outcomes.

Ministers say the recommendations for the new standard are designed to ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved in public sector developments, such as new roads, rail projects, schools, hospitals and prisons.

Lord Agnew, cabinet office minister, said: “The new Gold Standard will make sure that vital public sector developments have rigorous measures in place to make sure public money is spent well and that projects are delivered successfully. This will be welcomed across the public sector, the construction industry and by the public, who have a right to expect the best possible public sector projects. The move will help to drive consistency across major government projects and support the whole supply chain, meaning major schemes do not fall behind and small businesses have a greater chance of securing government business.”

Professor Mosey said: “The effectiveness of construction frameworks is hampered by duplication, inconsistency and adversarial practices, wasting large amounts of money and impeding essential progress. The new Gold Standard for frameworks and framework contracts drives the strategic actions that will improve value and safety, manage risks, meet net zero carbon targets and support a profitable construction industry.”

In 2018, public sector works contributed £117bn to the UK economy, as well as supporting more than two million jobs. The review is a result of the Construction Playbook, which was launched by the Cabinet Office in 2020 with the aim of making sure the public sector and construction industry work together better to deliver key infrastructure projects.

Lucy Carraz, AECOM government sector lead, said: “We welcome professor David Mosey’s review. Embedding the Construction Playbook policies within the recommendations, promoting strategic relationships to capture lessons learned and improving framework access for SMEs, will deliver tangible benefits for clients, communities and the industry.

“By identifying the Gold Standard for frameworks, we hope the report leads to a sensible rationalisation of the large number of active public sector frameworks. This would create deeper, more beneficial client-supplier relationships and improve the delivery of projects across our industry. This would also allow our resources to be better spent on solving key challenges including adopting modern methods of construction and reducing carbon.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with our clients, framework providers and industry partners to support them in achieving the Gold Standard features and we particularly welcome the concept of a Gold Standard action plan.”

Click here to download Constructing the Gold Standard – An independent review of public sector construction frameworks.

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