Reform of public construction contracts


A root and branch review of the way Scotland’s £2 billion public construction contracts are awarded was launched today.

The review will look at how public bodies involved in construction-related procurement, including those involved in affordable housing, adopt practices that are streamlined and deliver value for taxpayers’ money. It will also address the use of cutting edge design and technology, energy efficient techniques, materials and eco-friendly construction methods.

Scotland’s public bodies spend over £9 billion each year on procurement. Construction contracts account for more than £2 billion of the total spend.

Robin Crawford, a non executive Director and a former forensic partner in KPMG LLP and Ken Lewandowski, former Chairman of the Clydesdale Bank Financial Solution Centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh, have been appointed to lead the review, which is expected to be completed by summer 2013.

Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, said:

“Scotland’s public sector spends over £2 billion per annum on construction related contracts. The review will examine how we can improve the impact of this spending on Scotland’s economic growth and on the quality of Scotland’s built environment.

“In spite of Westminster’s significant cuts to our capital budget, we are working flat out to maximise investment in infrastructure projects and to improve the way the procurement system operates.

“This review will play a fundamental role in paving the way forward for our construction sector, helping to support jobs, to promote sustainable working practices and, most importantly, reaping maximum gains for Scotland’s economy.”

Robin Crawford, who will Chair the review, said

“Clearly, in the current economic climate it is essential for both the industry and its clients that the procurement system operates as efficiently as it can.

We will draw on the best examples of good practice in procurement in both the public and private sectors and will take account of earlier relevant reports on aspects of this issue.

“I am determined that the review will both identify what needs to change and will put in place measures that ensure that the necessary improvements are delivered.

“We will listen carefully to the views of all stakeholders before reaching our conclusions.”

Ken Lewandowski added:

“Having worked with construction industry representatives for some time and listened to their concerns I know how important this review is.

“I know that we have an opportunity to make a real difference am absolutely delighted to be invited to work with Robin on leading the review.”

Alan Watt, Chief Executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said:

“We welcome this announcement because the procurement burden comes close behind workload security in the major concerns expressed by infrastructure construction businesses across Scotland.  

“This review, following on from the Government’s Public Contracts Scotland portal and standard Prequalification Questionnaire, will hopefully pave the way for more streamlined construction procurement to save money and help preserve jobs.”

In February, the former Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment Alex Neil outlined his intention to further reform public procurement to improve Scottish businesses’ access to contract opportunities.