Procurement

Reforming Pre-Qualification

The procurement process is becoming more complex and prolonged with more selection stages or assessments being introduced to test contractor credentials. But with both public and private sectors facing increasing pressures on resources, procurement reform is vital if we are to continue to deliver world-class infrastructure projects to secure UK-wide economic growth. To this end, we have worked with our members to identify the eight most challenging elements of the procurement process and subsequently propose a series of solutions to address the challenges faced.

CECA and Build UK, with the support of the Construction Leadership Council, has developed a project that works towards greater commonality in pre-qualification assessment. We anticipate that this will raise industry standards by providing greater transparency and assurance in pre-qualification assessment.

The first phase of a new Pre-Qualification System for the construction industry was launched in April 2019. Further details on the new system are available here. If you would like more information, please contact CECA Director of External Affairs Marie-Claude Hemming.

The roll-out of this first phase of the new system includes:

  • Publication of the Common Assessment Standard used to pre-qualify companies. Based on existing PQ questionnaires, including BSI’s PAS 91, this covers 10 key areas and includes desktop and site-based assessment standards.
  • Confirmation of the first recognised assessment bodies to certify companies against the Common Assessment Standard. These organisations are Achilles, CHAS, and Constructionline.

Frameworks

CECA Frameworks Report

The CECA procurement group published its report on Frameworks in November 2018. The report stems from the group’s previous publication, CECA Procurement Report: Directions in policy for the UK’s infrastructure sector which  recommended:

  • Frameworks should be based around a clear valued work bank with a commitment to deliver work in the framework.
  • The number of companies on a framework should be proportionate to the framework’s value.
  • All frameworks should provide one direct award contract to each participant to provide participants an opportunity to recoup some of the bidding costs. Subsequent awards could be based on performance on the direct award and subsequent projects.
  • The full implementation of the recommendations of Effectiveness of Frameworks, A report by the Working Group on the Effectiveness of Frameworks of the Procurement and Lean Client Task Group.

Members have acknowledged that while the framework process can be advantageous in terms of streamlining potential bidders, they have often spent time bidding to be selected on a framework only to subsequently not win any work from it at all.

CECA’s 2018 Frameworks Report made the following recommendations, which we believe will deliver greater efficiencies and better value, greater certainty and clarity to those considering bidding to join a particular framework, and result in beneficial outcomes for all parties derived from true collaborative working between customer and contractors across the whole supply chain:

  • Frameworks should 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 should 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 for a single industry standard approach.
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