Dump tick-box procurement system, Cabe urges MPs
Design Council Cabe proposes database of standard PQQ answers
Design Council Cabe is calling for the current tick-box procurement system to be dropped and replaced with a code of practice that gives smaller firms a chance.
Its proposals are contained in evidence submitted to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment which is holding an inquiry into construction procurement.
Cabe’s report, written by Rab Bennetts, argues that the current system penalises smaller practices yet also fails to deliver value for money.
It proposes a Code of Practice for Design Procurement in the Built Environment the key features of which would include:
* Expert design advice for the client body.
* An updated database of information on all registered firms that would include information on their financial standing, insurance verification and health and safety policies so the actual procurement process can focus on project-specific issues.
* A selection criteria directly reflecting the values of the project, varying for, say, a theatre and a prison.
* Ensuring smaller firms or those without experience of a particular typology are not automatically excluded. The code would stress the importance of avoiding a requirement that can only be met by one group or size of firm.
* The fee for design services to be assessed with reference to a firm’s resources and staffing levels to ensure it is realistic.
Cabe has offered to organise a working party to develop the code in more detail.
Bennetts said: “Many highly appropriate designers are falling victim to over-complex or inconsistent selection methods.
“There is also widespread concern over punitive levels of waste for the industry as a whole. The consequences for the UK economy are considerable, with loss of work for the most able firms, low investment in design and construction innovation and, most importantly, the delivery of buildings that fail to match up to the initial ambition.”
He argued that it was not the EU that was at fault but the local interpretation of the procurement rules within the UK.
“Design Council Cabe’s understanding is that there is nothing in the current or proposed EU legislation that prevents the procurement process within the UK being made more effective, provided the selection criteria are advertised in advance and the tender process is both transparent and auditable,” he said.