No Turning Back says Jane Hutt

Jane Hutt AM, Business and Budget Minister for Wales, announced that due to the risks of a wholesale return to lowest price tendering in public sector construction procurement, the Welsh Assembly Government will be setting up a policy team focussing on construction procurement.

26th October 2010

No Turning Back, says Jane Hutt

Jane Hutt AM, Business and Budget Minister for Wales, announced that due to the risks of a wholesale return to lowest price tendering in public sector construction procurement, the Welsh Assembly Government will be setting up a policy team focussing on construction procurement.

The Minister was speaking on Tuesday, 26 October, at the Construct 2010 conference in Cardiff where a ground breaking report into construction procurement in the public sector in Wales that calls for a policy commitment from the Welsh Assembly Government and a consistent approach from all public sector bodies.  The report, No Turning Back – The Case for a Renewed Emphasis on best Value and Collaborative Working in Public Sector Construction Procurement was commissioned by Constructing Excellence in Wales and includes research, comment and recommendations from stakeholders within the construction supply chain.

Evidence and testimony from over forty interviewees showed that the industry has been moving steadily backwards to the bad practices of the late 1990s as opposed to the best value procurement methods advocated by Welsh Assembly Government following the Egan and Latham reports.  The report indicated that the risks inherent in such an approach might lead to core targets on waste, sustainability and communities being missed as instead of efficiency in process, planning and design costs and element of projects are simply cut out.

Mike Edmonds, Chair of the Procurement task group who is a board member of Constructing Excellence in Wales and associate director of Arup said: “The Welsh Assembly Government and public sector bodies have to lead by example and procure construction services the right way, which is by no means always the cheapest way.  To achieve targets on waste, sustainability and communities takes time in planning, design and collaboration.  Projects must allow for this process and the benefits are better roads, schools and hospitals that are not just fit for purpose but are within budget, constructed from recycled material and created with the local community in mind.  These things cannot be achieved if the lowest price is chosen each time.  We must remind everyone in the supply chain that the answer to creating a world class built environment for Wales is value, not price.”

Milica Kitson, chief executive of Constructing Excellence in Wales said: “Right now the public sector is the biggest customer for Welsh construction.  We need to make sure that everyone involved in the construction procurement process appreciates the results of not taking a collaborative or best value procurement approach.  We believe, and this report backs up our instincts, that ignoring best value will mean that as well as major Government targets being missed the industry will be taking a step backwards towards litigation, higher prices and poorer quality.”

No Turning Back: The Case for a Renewed Emphasis on Best Value and Collaborative Working in Public Sector Construction Procurement can be obtained from Constructing Excellence in Wales by contacting 02920 493322 or emailing info@cewales.org.uk.