Government streamlines building contract process

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20 October 2010 | Angeline Albert

The UK government has introduced a pre-qualification process for construction contracts that it believes will save the building industry millions.

Suppliers currently have to answer a different set of questions every time they bid for new government contracts. From this week, a standard pre-qualification questionnaire is available to streamline this process and save time and money for construction firms.

The British Standards Institution developed the Publicly Available Specification (PAS 91) in partnership with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

Business minister Mark Prisk said: “Ensuring that public sector procurement practices are not wasteful has always been important, but the current economic climate brings that into even sharper focus. Over the next decade the new PAS 91 could save the construction industry billions of pounds. This is a good example of how government can work with key suppliers to develop an approach that meets the needs of both public sector clients and private sector suppliers.”

Estimates by the National Specialist Contractors' Council put the cost to the industry and its clients of wasteful pre-qualification processes at £250 million annually.

Bill Wright, managing director of W. Wright Electrical, said: “As a contractor who regularly fills out these questionnaires, I fully support the publication of PAS 91 and I am pleased to see that it is gaining wide support across the industry. What matters now is that clients and major contractors adopt, or even when they need more information, build upon this important document. This will help to minimise costly and unnecessary paperwork and place the focus where it should be – on assessing a contractor’s capabilities.”

The PAS 91 specification sets out the nature, content and format of a set questions relating to the core criteria essential to construction tendering – general supplier information, financial information, business and professional standing and health and safety. It also details a standard set of questions for topics that buyers are frequently interested in, including equal opportunities, environmental management and quality management.

PAS 91 is available to download.

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