Those in the public sector working on procurement will need to radically adapt and change the way they work to support change in the construction industry and respond to the challenges faced by the country. So says Lord Kerslake non-executive Chairman of framework provider Pagabo.
The Government guidance on sourcing and contracting public works projects and programmes has been published at a crucial time — when the UK is still reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and as it moves to a new relationship with the European Union.
The Construction Playbook is a positive and powerful document with great information on how we can together create a transformation of the construction sector. This document is really important and bigger than people realise — given the size of the construction sector in this country and that it makes up 10% of our economy.
The report has some particularly positive things in it in terms of health and safety and its primacy in construction and the way it innovates. The report also acknowledges the huge importance of social value and the need to assess projects in terms of their whole life costs and procure for value. Thirdly, and crucially, the importance of digital in construction.
The report itself features an in-depth analysis on how we move forwards as an industry and how we will take on board these really important issues.
This is going to involve as much of a change on the procurement side in the public sector as it a change in the construction sector.
This means a radical change in the process of procurement within the public sector to encourage and support the sector itself changing. There will therefore be the huge task of investing in training and development of the public sector here. And if that doesn’t happen, there is a risk that the sector looks to change but then finds the procurement isn’t changing to keep pace with that. It is vitally important therefore, but both construction and procurement need to work together.
We need to ensure that the principles of the document are followed through in practice so when we talk about social value it is not a theoretical thing — but is real delivery of social value. Which means that you have to ensure that social benefits are maintained when the contract has started — not just calculated at the beginning.
Digital technology and digitally enabled procurement and delivery could be enormously helpful in ensuring that the rest of the principles are achieved in practice. I think that the things that Pagabo has done with its Future of Construction initiative anticipates many of these issues and it fits very well with the approach that Pagabo has taken to try and change its business.
One issue that I couldn’t see as much about creating a diverse industry.
The playbook talks about delivery but more work needs to be done and more thought needs to be given to how this is done across the public sector — a huge and diverse set of organisations.
The playbook is important post COVID. COVID has been the focus in the construction sector and within local organisations — and of course, the ‘here and now.’ This has almost certainly crowded out the longer term thinking by government.
But what I do see are welcome documents such as this playbook, as well as the government’s Fairer, Faster, Green document on infrastructure and the prime minister’s ten-point plan on zero carbon. It’s all part of the ‘building back better’ agenda and now is the right time to be thinking about all of these aspects.
The construction industry is vital to the UK’s economy and this playbook acknowledges that — and it encourages collaborative work across the public sector and private sector. It also notes that the principles and polices in the playbook aim to transform how we assess procure and manage public works projects and programmes.
The document is a good guide for how the UK can deliver beyond COVID. But now we need to deliver together — and procurement is at the core of that delivery.”
For more information, please visit https://www.pagabo.co.uk/.