Design Council wants construction procurement 'code of practice'

22 February 2012

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22 February 2012 | Adam Leach

The Design Council has called for reform to simplify and improve public sector construction procurement, recommending that a code of practice be established for buyers.

Criticising current processes as “time consuming”, “complex” and resulting in the delivery of projects that “fail to match initial ambitions”, the body - which is the lead advisor to the UK government on matters of design - proposed a new code to simplify the process and make it easier for companies to bid.

Outlining what it sees as the key features of a potential code, the Council identified the need for: expert advice on the procurement process to be provided to client bodies from the outset of projects; appropriate assessment criteria for projects; fair scoring systems and best practice guidance for bidders. It also called for mandatory feedback for suppliers and a combined evaluation of fees, resources and personnel.

Speaking to MPs in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Excellence in the Built Environment, architect Rab Bennetts, director of the Design Council Commission for Architecture for the Built Environment, said: “The advent of mandatory procurement processes over the last 20 years has been accompanied by dramatic changes in the way that architects and other members of the design team are chosen, having a detrimental impact on the final outcome and the UK’s economy.

“The proposed code of practice is intended to provide appropriate guidance and encourage a change of culture that would be of enormous benefit to both the industry and the economy.”

Both The Royal Institute of British Architects and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland have made similar calls to reform to public sector buying in recent months.

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