29 July 2008 | Jake Kanter
The Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme must improve its procurement processes to help it get back on schedule, according to the CBI.
A total of 350 schools should have been rebuilt and refurbished by the end of this year. However, the government expects only 12 to be finished by then (Web news, 8 February). And the CBI's report More than bricks and mortar: delivering Building Schools for the Future, found local authorities were "sorely stretched" for expertise and resources to manage purchasing for the BSF project.
The CBI said the programme's annual £2.2 billion spend must achieve the best possible value and quality. It urged the government to develop the procurement skills of buyers to help speed up processes and ensure well defined project specifications are consistently drawn up. It also recommended local authorities share information and standardise documentation to make it easier for suppliers to bid.
In May the BSF programme reformed its procurement processes to reduce purchasing times and introduce earlier supplier selection (Web news, 8 May).
Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnerships for Schools, the organisation responsible for delivering the BSF project, welcomed the report. He said: "Changes being made to the procurement process - expected to deliver up to £250 million savings - have been welcomed by the private sector."