£3m fund for better procurement opens

18 April 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

A £3m fund for pilot projects to improve approaches to procurement in housing, local-authority-led and infrastructure construction has launched.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) said it was seeking expressions of interest and applications as part of the Improving Performance Through Better Procurement Approaches commission.

The project aims to learn from good practice and share it throughout the sector. The move came after research by the Institute of Civil Engineers in 2017 found that current procurement approaches can hinder productivity, be wasteful, perform poorly and fail to use technologies that benefit other sectors.

Infrastructure delivery supply chains are also locked in cycles of low margins, low investment, variable training standards and dysfunctional relationships, the report found, with the end result being construction that is behind schedule and over budget.

CITB said it was looking to fund projects that explore new approaches to procurement that can increase performance, such as collaborative working through supply chains, to create training solutions that can benefit construction as a whole. 

It is looking for proposals from:

  • levy-registered employers seeking to improve project performance
  • federations and/or trade associations
  • construction clients or procurement framework leaders who want to support supply partners
  • training providers or consultancies working in construction

Steve Radley, CITB director of strategy and policy, said: “While other sectors have seen increases in productivity in recent decades, construction has lagged behind with weak approaches to procurement playing a key role.

“We want to explore new and more collaborative ways of working that can improve supply chain relationships within procured projects, meaning more housing and infrastructure delivered on time and on budget to the benefit of clients and the construction industry alike.”

Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), said: “Our members are seeing significant changes in the way that the sector’s customers are engaging their suppliers, moving away from old transactional approaches to create a whole new business model for the sector.

“Leading clients are looking to work in long-term relationships that are focussed on delivering outstanding outcomes for users, while harnessing new technologies to build more productively. Industry needs to harness this new productivity, and we hope that this procurement commission can play a part in securing this”.

Webinars are taking place on 16 April to provide an overview and the chance to raise any questions, with further workshops in the coming weeks for applicants. 

Projects can last up to three years in duration. The deadline for expressions of interest is 10 June, while applications must be submitted by 24 June.

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