RIBA is taking too long to spell out the need to change
Months spent consulting industry bodies for the report on procurement reform are a waste of everybody’s time
By the time the RIBA gets round to publishing its magnum opus on procurement reform, more architects will have wasted time bidding for work and more taxpayers’ money will have been poured down the drain.
A draft report is now doing the rounds but won’t be published until next month. This makes the finished version five months late — not a great way for RIBA to demonstrate that architects can deliver projects on time.
Why the delay? Partly, it’s the subject. Procurement was never going to be easy to tackle, but the “task force” the RIBA set up now argues it needs more time to consult with other bodies so the final report “reflects views commonly held across the industry rather than being specific to architects”.
Since the RIBA exists to represent the interests of its members, who are architects, this seems curious. But leaving that aside, it shouldn’t take it long to figure out that what public sector work there is is always won by the same big firms (and management consultants) that can tick the right boxes. Some research on which those firms are would make interesting reading.
It also shouldn’t take long to list those boxes and show why the system is unfair and particularly damaging to small and young practices. But all practices risk being caught out by indecisive clients such as TfL.
The RIBA is right to tackle procurement but wrong to drag it out. Its message should be a simple one: the time for reform is long overdue.