Engineers call for new Whitehall procurement approach

22 June 2018

Engineers have called for a new procurement approach from the government as part of a closer relationship between ministers and the industry.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) said a more hands-on role by the government could help construction become more productive and sustainable.

The remarks came in ICE’s response to the government’s construction strategy (GCS). Construction procurement has been put under the spotlight recently by the Grenfell disaster and modern slavery.

ICE identified five priority areas and made 12 specific recommendations for inclusion in the GCS.

These cover commercial strategy, procurement process, contracting approach, risk management and digital transformation.

Within the procurement process recommendations, it said ICE-produced best practice guidance should be included in training of procurement and commercial staff within the Government Construction Board member organisations.

The report also called for the tender process to be reviewed and streamlining targets set, including introducing limits to the length of tender documents.

“There should also be assurance checks for ensuring procurement documentation aligns with project outcomes and business cases,” said the report.

It also called for the use of standard prequalification websites such as Constructionline to reduce the burden of tendering for SMEs.

When it came to contractor payment, ICE said where possible government should continue to promote the use of ring-fenced project bank accounts.

At the same time Whitehall should consider a more sustainable reward mechanism based on a guaranteed minimum fee and additional incentives.

“Where a project bank account is not suitable government should insist on within 30-day payment terms throughout the supply chain and provide a digital system to monitor performance against this target,” said the report.

ICE said that on major projects the government should roll out owner-controlled insurance programmes and explore the possibility of mandating professional indemnity cover.

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