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New transparent procurement approach among raft of items for construction strategy

Engineers responding to the government’s construction strategy (GCS) are calling for a revised and clear procurement approach to be delivered as part of a much-needed closer relationship between ministers and the industry.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has presented its response to the GCS 2016-2020 in which it claims a more hands-on role by those in Whitehall could help construction move towards a more productive and sustainable future.

After consulting with experts on governmental commitments to construction, the ICE suggests there are five areas of priority and 12 specific recommendations which should be included in the GCS to deliver this step change in relationships. The recommendations revolve around the areas of commercial strategy, procurement process, contracting approach, risk management and digital transformation.

The paper published by the organisation states that government should use its “substantial influence effectively and consistently” to stimulate a more sustainable and productive construction industry. One key recommendation put forward is for ministers to seek more intelligent ways to organise competition by incorporating a positive incentivisation to outperform on a range of success criteria aligned with project outcomes against a benchmarked budget.

Hannah Vickers, head of Policy and Public Affairs, at ICE, said: “In creating this submission, we have bought together key industry experts to highlight best practice. The door is open for the government to collaborate with the industry to help shape the development of the GCS and together build a sustainable and productive future for construction within the UK. We hope to see the government use its substantial influence effectively and consistently to help build an environment that fosters better working practices and deliver a step-change in its relationship with industry.”

Another central area of priority for the government is the need to develop an approach to the procurement process which provides transparency and demonstrates value to the public sector whilst minimising the burden and costs of bidding for industry, according to the ICE. The report calls for a review of the tender process while assurance checks should be in place for ensuring procurement documentation aligns with project outcomes and business cases.

One final vital area advised for the government play a part in is accelerating the digital transformation within the industry. Engineers believe the government’s strategy should build on recommendations set out by the National Infrastructure Commission by formally recognising asset data as an asset in its own right.

The paper states: “The next GCS should continue to embed BIM L2, and to build the foundations for future roll out of BIM L3 and L4 shifting the focus from construction of new assets to developing data to improve management of the existing asset network  through mandating standards and developing the capability of asset owner organisations to manage and apply data in decision making.”