The Treasury’s Infrastructure UK Cost Review identified a need for better benchmarking of infrastructure projects in order to realise a targeted 20% reduction in costs. These savings are anticipated to be achieved through:
- Improving the challenge function within the public sector
- Improving the cost management of projects and programmes
- Tracking cost performance of new initiatives in procurement and delivery
- Facilitating benchmarking of common structure between sectors.
The main barrier to benchmarking is a lack of a standard for defining and presenting costs of civil engineering projects.
To address this BCIS has produced a consultation document ‘SFCECA outline data structure’, which presents an overview of cost elements for most types of civil engineering structures. The structures are grouped by basic functions into ‘Entities’1 with Elements proposed for each Entity.
In addition to the outline data structure BCIS has published General principles, instructions, definitions and common elements’ for preparing a cost analysis, and detailed definitions for certain Entities, all of which are available on request2.
BCIS is keen to consult as widely as possible to establish:
The aim of the consultation is to establish:
- whether there is a general need for a SFCECA
whether the approach developed is generally acceptable by:
- seeking comments and suggestions on the proposed structure
- engaging with specialist clients and consultants to incorporate existing definitions of entity types and functional cost data structures; and
- if there is a desire for an industry database.
The proposed SFCECA documents were initially developed to provide the Defense Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) with a database of costs for its civil engineering projects. BCIS is grateful for their permission to make it available to the benefit of the industry.
Joe Martin, BCIS Executive Director commenting on the consultation said “BCIS was set up to provide the information required to carry out elemental cost planning for buildings based on a standard form of analysis. The barrier to applying the same principles to civil engineering has been the lack of a standard. I am very excited at the prospect of testing the applicability of the proposed standard to civil engineering. The draft is a proposal and we are keen to learn from the industry if the underlying concepts will apply and adjust the detail in line with any existing or developing standards in each sector.”
Tom O’Donnell Chairman of the RICS Infrastructure Forum,“Further to our establishment of the Infrastructure Forum by the RICS it is apparent that an industry standard set of rules for expressing civil engineering costs would be of great benefit to the industry. I therefore welcome this initiative and encourage all cost consultants involved in infrastructure to engage in the consultation.”
Bill Yardley, DIO Head of Projects, “We very much welcome the consultation on the Civil Engineering Standard Form of Cost Analysis developed by BCIS for use in Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). It can only be in the interest of everyone in the construction industry and its clients to standardise our analysis approach and presentation of Civil Engineering costs.”
Stephen Blakey, Head of Claims & Estimating, Network Rail, “The timing could not be better as during 2011, we have been developing a suite of documents collectively referred to as the “Rail Method of Measurement & Cost Analysis”, which will be ready for broader industry consultation in the new year We are keen to contribute to the development of a Standard Form of Civil Engineering Cost Analysis (SFCECA), not least by bringing the Rail Method of Measurement work to the table. Our aspiration is for this work to establish a common language for both purchasers and suppliers alike to describe, compare, manage and analyse the cost of railway works. The dialogue, which has already started between Network Rail and BCIS, should ensure a full alignment for railway works elements between the two systems. Of course the ultimate prize is the ability to compare and benchmark costs not only across railways, but across the whole infrastructure sector.”
Alasdair Reisner, director of external affairs at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, “For many years BCIS has been at the forefront of effort to investigate and record costs for the construction industry. The infrastructure sector faces considerable challenges over the coming years to understand and, if possible reduce its costs. We look forward to working with BCIS to support the work that it is involved in this area, and to contribute to this consultation”