The government is strongly supportive of the use of frameworks for procuring construction contracts but says not all of them are delivering their aims.
The Cabinet Office has appointed David Mosey, a law professor at King’s College London, to lead a review of public sector frameworks. He is the director of the Centre of Construction Law & Dispute Resolution at the Dickson Poon School of Law.
He has been asked to come up with recommendations for:
- the components of a ‘gold standard’ against which new proposed frameworks and framework contracts can be measured
- standard contract terms that support the new gold standard
- training packages to enable adoption of the new gold standard.
The idea is to promote those features of frameworks that embody the policies set out in the government’s recently published Construction Playbook.
The Construction Playbook talks about ‘Effective Contracting’, designed to ensure that contracts are structured to support an exchange of data, collaboration, improve value and manage risk with clear expectations for continuous improvement and consistent with the principles contained within the Construction Playbook.
The Cabinet Office said that commercial frameworks “had been proven to provide a powerful tool for strategic planning, integrated teams, continuous improvement and the delivery of better, safer, faster and greener project outcomes”.
However, across the public and private sectors, there are a wide variety of frameworks and a lack of clear guidance as to best practice. “As a result, the potential of frameworks is not always well expressed or well understood and they are not always successful in delivering their aims,” it said.
The review has been welcomed by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), whose director of external affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming, said: “It is nearly a decade since the UK Government received a cross-industry recommendation to establish a ‘clearing house’ to avoid unfair and overlapping frameworks.
“We recognise that while commercial frameworks are a powerful tool to implement strategic planning and the delivery of optimal project outcomes, their proliferation in recent years has led to a fragmented and sometimes contradictory system that imposes burdens on businesses.
“Professor Mosey’s review should focus on identifying best practice when it comes to frameworks, and we look forward to engaging with his work with the goal of securing value for money for the client across infrastructure procurement in the UK.
“CECA’s own research has highlighted a number of areas in which frameworks should be reformed, and we hope this work will be taken into consideration by the review. Establishing what the ‘gold standard’ is for frameworks and implementing this model will ultimately lead to better outcomes for the UK taxpayer, the economy, and for our members, who at the current time are hamstrung by a frameworks system that is not fit for purpose.”