Industry Slams Government Silence Over Procurement ContractsMay 28th, 2009 by Barry Potier
Industry figures have slammed the Office of Government Commerce’s continued endorsement of only one type of construction contract for public procurement. Trade bodies described the existing system as “uncompetitive and wholly inappropriate”.
Since a review of all construction contracts in 2005, the government department has encouraged the use of NEC contracts in public projects.
A report produced earlier this year by Arup for the OGC found that three contract forms – the NEC3, JCT and ACA – actually met the Government’s Achieving Excellence in Construction criteria.
But the OGC has since stayed quiet on the findings, failing to publicly promote anything other than the NEC3.
The Joint Contracts Tribunal said the OGC had “made it clear” it intended to continue only endorsing the one form of contract.
CMS Cameron McKenna solicitor Francis Ho said: “The OGC has had this report since September and there still has not been an official statement on it. It has been rumoured for months that the OGC will just ignore it.”
He said there had “always been a slight favouritism towards NEC”, which is the oldest form of contract.
Construction Confederation director of legal affairs John Bradley said: “By favouring one type of contract, the OGC is creating a monopoly in construction procurement for Government departments. This step is obviously uncompetitive and wholly inappropriate in today’s industry.”
National Specialist Contractors Council chief executive Suzannah Nichol said she “firmly believed the OGC should not favour one form of contract over another”.
She added: “Why is the OGC favouring one particular contract, when a number of forms meet its Achieving Excellence requirements?”
An OGC spokesman said: “The OGC has not placed a restriction on the forms of building contracts used by public sector construction clients, and it is wrong to suggest that this is the case.
“The Public Sector Construction Clients’ Forum has recognised and welcomed the progress made by JCT in developing forms of contracts that are compliant with the principles of Achieving Excellence in Construction.
“The PSCCF continues to fully endorse the use of NEC3 in the interests of standardisation, which has benefits to both the customer and the supplier.”
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