15 July 2008 | Paul Snell
Gateway reviews could be used to ensure that colleges are managing construction projects efficiently
The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) carries out gateway reviews of large government projects at key stages to assess progress and pre-empt problems.
The recommendation that this process could be applied to colleges comes in a National Audit Office (NAO) report examining how further education institutions are constructing and maintaining their buildings.
The spending watchdog found that there had been progress in the procurement of construction projects, but concluded improvements were still needed.
Alongside the possible use of gateway reviews, colleges were urged to engage with their contractors earlier for design input because making the projects easier to build increases value for money.
The study also said colleges, and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), which oversees and provides support for the construction and maintenance programme, needed to do more on whole-life costing. It said that colleges often concentrated on the construction costs, with "less appreciation" of the building's whole-life cost.
The LSC was also urged to help colleges share expertise. The NAO said it would be particularly useful if institutions that have run successful projects could assist those just starting out on them.