30 November 2009 | Jake Kanter
The UK government has launched a fresh review of procurement processes for the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
It will involve further changes to the programme - under which all 3,500 secondary schools in England will be rebuilt, remodelled or refurbished by 2020 - following a separate purchasing review last year.
Tim Byles, chief executive of delivery body Partnerships for Schools, said the overhaul would focus on four areas in an effort to cut costs and project timescales. He was speaking at the organisation's annual design conference in London last week.
Proposed improvements include a centralised pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) system, which means suppliers won't have to submit a PQQ each time they bid for a contract. Next is releasing funding for ICT equipment earlier. The third focus is ensuring local authority committee meetings are synchronised to speed up decision-making. Fourthly, there was a proposal to simplify school design requirements.
Byles wants purchasing programmes to be completed in an average of 52 weeks. "By exploring possible steps such as a centralised PQQ process, the use of exemplar sample designs, and looking again at where ICT procurement fits in the process could all hold the key to improved timeliness and cost-effectiveness, ensuring pupils, teachers, parents and local communities benefit from new learning environments earlier than previously possible," he said.
Byles added that the previous procurement review is helping to reduce purchasing timescales by up to two months and costs across the programme by £250 million.