Architects draw up campaign against procurement bureaucracy

13 September 2011

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13 September 2011 | Helen Gilbert

PQQs in the construction industry are far too lengthy and should be limited to between 10 and 12 questions, an architect campaigning for an overhaul of public sector procurement has argued.

Willie Watt, a partner at architects Nicoll Russell, warned PQQs were getting “longer and longer” because there were fewer construction professionals involved in the process and urged the government to “turn back the clock” and ensure evaluations are compact.

He said it was commonplace to see PQQs containing more than 100 questions, which made it hard for the client to differentiate between bidders and, conversely, harder for the suppliers to differentiate themselves from competitors.

“10 years ago if we were pitching for an architectural project we could well be dealing with another architect and they would understand the construction world, understand the scope of service that the architect would need to provide, there would be a common language and because of that the questions would be quite focused,” he told SM.

“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 PQQ’s need to be any bigger than that.”

In addition, Angela Brady, in her inaugural speech as president of professional organisation the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) last Friday, vowed to “bring about reform of the procurement system” which she described as “the bane of our – architects – professional lives”.

Watt launched a petition last month that called for public sector procurement to be streamlined, as it is “overly complex and very expensive”, it claims.

So far, 389 have signed the petition – some way short of the 100,000 necessary to prompt a debate in parliament - but the campaign is supported by both RIBA and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

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