Brady taskforce to tackle procurement culture
RIBA president-elect unveils series of radical initiatives to ’make a difference quickly’
Angela Brady plans to unveil a series of radical initiatives in the first weeks of her RIBA presidency, which will see architects such as David Chipperfield asked to join pan-industry taskforces to force through changes on procurement and competitions.
With just a month to go before she succeeds Ruth Reed, the incoming RIBA president is drawing up an agenda ahead of a lobbying campaign to get government to rethink the way it does business.
“I’m trying to make a difference quickly,” she told BD.
She wants a procurement taskforce to produce a report by Christmas in the hope it can persuade the government to overhaul the way it allocates contracts.
The taskforce will be led by newly elected RIBA councillor Walter Menteth, author of the RIBA’s green paper on procurement.
“Procurement is the biggest problem we have, particularly for local-authority and public-sector work,” said Brady. “It’s a tick-box exercise that’s more interested in risk factors than the quality of the product. I am going to tackle this head-on.”
She revealed that the taskforce would include Construction Industry Council (CIC) chief executive Graham Watts and architect Sarah Wigglesworth, who this week said the procurement process only rewarded “clerical aptitude”.
“Sarah has first-hand experience in the ridiculousness of the existing system,” Brady said.
Explaining her decision to involve the CIC, she said: “The more we include other parts of the construction industry, the more we can lobby government for a better system.”
She has already spoken to Chipperfield about joining a separate taskforce that will look at the way design competitions are administered.
“He [Chipperfield] spoke about competitions at the Gold Medal last year and he offered to help,” she said. “We’ll also be looking for representatives from small and medium-size practices. If you look at France and Germany they have a huge number of competitions that are paid. We need clients here to think more like that.”
Each task force will be composed of architecture, construction and business professionals and Brady plans to invite up to nine members to sit on them.
Brady also confirmed that the RIBA Competitions arm, which is based in Leeds, will be incorporated into the institute’s commercial division RIBA Enterprises.
Her first RIBA Council meeting, at Portland Place in October, is set to include Sam Webb, George Oldham and Peter Caplehorn after they were all elected for national seats last month.
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