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Scottish procurement review welcomed

23 Oct 13 An independent review of the way in which the Scottish public sector procures construction work has been welcomed by the industry.

Years late and way over budget, the Scottish Parliament building was not the nation's finest hour in construction procurement
Years late and way over budget, the Scottish Parliament building was not the nation's finest hour in construction procurement

The Review of Procurement in Construction, produced by Robin Crawford and Ken Lewandowski for the Scottish government, looked at how public bodies involved in construction-related procurement can adopt practices that are streamlined and deliver value for taxpayers’ money.

The report estimates the total annual public sector spend on construction to be £4bn.

Among the recommendations is the appointment of a chief construction advisor to bring all the other recommendations into life. It also recommends the Scottish government publish its list of planned projects every year so that the construction industry can better plan its workload. Both of these ideas are already in place at UK level.

The report also recommends that the Scottish government closley monitors the UK government's current trials of three models of construction procurement: two-stage open book, cost-led procurement and integrated project insurance.

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • Greater leadership of construction procurement.
  • Improved construction skills across the public sector.
  • Design to be at the heart of construction procurement.

Robin Crawford, a former partner of KPMG who chaired the review, said: “Our vision is of an approach which achieves better collaboration in design led procurement, which achieves value for money for the public sector but which also recognises that the construction sector is a vitally important part of the Scottish economy.

“Much of the procurement undertaken by the public sector is conducted by capable people, but good practice is not uniform across the entire public sector, and we see many opportunities for others to learn from this best practice.”

Deputy chair of the review Ken Lewandowski added: “Responsibility for the reform agenda does not rest solely with the public sector, and so some of our recommendations are addressed to the many companies and firms working for public authorities.

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“The construction industry is characterised by contentious behaviours, and must itself end practices which can hurt small firms such as extended payment terms and retention abuse”.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association Scotland said the report “identifies a large number of long term industry problems and suggests practical solutions to address them and aid economic recovery”.

CECA Scotland chief executive Alan Watt said: “We have been encouraged by the Scottish government and its independent review team’s thorough engagement with industry - including ourselves - in preparing this work, and although we don’t necessarily agree with every recommendation, we believe it is a genuine attempt to improve trading conditions in the Scottish construction market.

“We now call on the Scottish government to act quickly in implementing this report and thereby assist the sector in the long journey to recovery.”

The Scottish Building Federation also welcomed the publication. Managing director Vaughan Hart said: “I’m pleased to see the publication of this report and the recognition it gives to the crucial importance of the construction industry to Scotland’s economy. I share the conclusion that improving the efficiency of construction procurement is a joint responsibility of industry and government and welcome the emphasis placed on promoting existing best practice. Once the detail has been properly digested, we will look forward to seeing what actions the Scottish government will take to implement its recommendations.”

Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was considering the report’s recommendations and would “respond formally in due course”.

The report Review of Procurement in Construction is available at: www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/10/2688

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