CECA: Too Many Frameworks Don’t Work

Contractors are being hit as too many frameworks are failing to deliver expected work, while putting firms through unneeded extra bids to secure projects.

That is the key finding of the Civil Engineering Contractors Associations’ year-long study into the use of frameworks.

Members told CECA that, for their frameworks:

  • 71 % frequently reported less than anticipated workloads.
  • 64% indicated a regular lack of workload visibility.
  • 56% reported it is common for frameworks to have unnecessary second competitions.
  • 54% said frameworks frequently favoured lowest cost over quality.

In order to start the drive forward towards best practice, CECA worked with its members and others in industry to develop a series of recommendations for infrastructure clients:

  • Frameworks to be based around a clear valued work bank with a commitment to deliver work in the framework.
  • Once established, frameworks must be used by customers.
  • Frameworks to deliver a specified minimum value of work for all participants with subsequent work distributed on quality of tender performance and delivery.
  • The number of companies on a framework should be proportionate and balanced in relation to the framework’s value and the number and type of projects available.
  • Customers should refrain from using multiple frameworks for greater flexibility which comes at the expense of increased uncertainty for the supply chain.
  • More use should be made of limited requests for tenders from a select number of suppliers, contractors or service providers in order to reduce the time and cost of the selection process.
  • Framework operators should only consider the use of mini competitions if there is a clear commercial reason for doing so.
  • Frameworks must recognise SME specialisms and expertise.
  • PQQs for frameworks should adopt proposals being developed by industry for a single industry standard approach.

Commenting, CECA Director of External Affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming said: “CECA’s research report on frameworks stems from our previous work on the challenges of procurement as a whole.

“Over the past few years, our members have indicated that while frameworks can be a useful tool to organise and deliver civil engineering projects, they do not always work effectively.

“There is a substantial programme of work coming forwards in the next few years. In order to ensure smooth and efficient delivery of the world-class infrastructure we so desperately need, it is vital that it is procured as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.

“We are therefore keen to start a discussion on how we can make frameworks work for everyone. Over the coming year we will be sharing this document with the wider infrastructure community and others, and we hope that our recommendations will become incorporated by our customers and wider Government.”

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