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Egan blasts contractors over BSF

16 July 2010

Sir John Egan, author of the seminal ‘Rethinking Construction’ report, has attacked the way contractors treated the scrapped Building Schools for the Future scheme.

Egan, who is a member of the task force charged with replacing BSF, told Construction News that he had “no sympathy” for contractors hit by hundreds of cancelled schools projects.

Education secretary Michael Gove last week abandoned the £55 billion programme to rebuild or refurbish every state secondary school in England by 2023.

Egan has been appointed to the task force set up to find a more efficient procurement system. Chaired by Oxford University vice-chancellor John Hood, it met for the first time this week.

He told Construction News: “We will start to see what we can do to try to bring sanity to the funding of the programme and efficiency.

“Through BSF, the money was not being spent efficiently. The construction industry without an expert client is very expensive.

“I have not got much sympathy for contractors. They were submitting high-cost bids for projects and must have had their tongues firmly in their cheeks.”

His comments came after Gove cited “botched construction projects” as one of the reasons for scrapping BSF.

Egan said one of his aims on the panel was to turn the Department for Education into a more knowledgeable purchaser of construction projects.

“I would like to see expert ­clients start putting in place a programme where Britain is an example of how to build quality schools cost effectively.

“Some councils were spending 30 per cent of the cost of their projects on architects and pre-design work, which is extraordinarily expensive.”

In his 1998 Rethinking Construction report, Egan warned that low levels of profitability in UK construction were unsustainable.

He called for the industry to innovate, from methods of procurement to building systems, and said designers and constructors had to come together to reduce project time and cost.

Egan, chief executive of BAA throughout the 1990s, also spoke of his frustration that the review will not report before Christmas. “I am relatively disappointed that it will be five months before we report. I had hoped we would be able to do it quicker.”

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