Architects call for procurement guidance from Scottish Government

9 December 2011

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9 December 2011 | Adam Leach

The Scottish Government should issue guidance to public authorities on how to handle procurement on construction projects that fall below the EU threshold, according to a report.

Building a better future?, published yesterday, by The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) welcomed moves by the government to reform the procurement process in construction projects such as simplifying pre-qualification questionnaires and moving towards an approach that emphasises outcomes over quality of process. However, it called on ministers to take steps to ensure that the changes were communicated to local authorities.

The report said: “We recommend that Scottish ministers prepare and issue new guidance to public authorities regarding the handling of public procurement for projects falling below the European and the Scottish Futures Trust thresholds in order to encourage a simpler and far more proportionate process than is in use at present.”

Commenting on the problems presented by an overly complex PQQs, RIAS president, Sholto Humphries, said: “The resources required simply to submit a tender are forcing many capable, talented and experienced practitioners to look elsewhere, either to the private sector or out of Scotland, for work. A generation of Scottish architectural talent is being squandered.”

At this year's Procurex Scotland conference in Glasgow, the Scottish Government announced that it would be rolling out a revised online PQQ, designed to make it easier for businesses, particularly SMEs, to compete for public sector contracts. Through the online system, bidding parties will be able to create a standardised PQQ that can be tailored to fit specific tenders. The call from RIAS will now encourage the government to ensure that once established, the benefits and function of the PQQ and other changes to procurement are quickly communicated to local authorities.

Earlier this year, Dundee-based architect Willie Watt, a partner at Nicoll Russell, launched a campaign on the ePetitions website, calling for a UK-wide simplification of the PQQ. Speaking to SM in September, he said: “Because there are fewer architects involved in the client side, people are fearful, they don’t understand the issues, more and more questions are being generated in an effort to control perceived risks and it’s multiplying up. A PQQ of 10 to 12 questions is achievable. I don’t see why PQQs need to be any bigger than that.”

His petition currently has 737 signatories.

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