The Defence Infrastructure Organisation has pushed back the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) deadline for the National Capital Works framework in response to calls from contractors frustrated by the bid process.
One contractor told Construction News: “We were under the impression the Next Generation Estate Contracts would be done differently - that new companies would be given a chance.
“If you look at the shortlists announced so far it’s all the same old names on there.
“A lot of firms wanted to know where they were going wrong because there have been a few problems with the new system.”
A DIO spokesman confirmed the decision to extend the deadline by two months in response to contractor demand and said companies now have until 10 October to return PQQs. A shortlist is expected early next year.
“An East Midlands and East of England PQQ debrief is scheduled for 29/30 September, in which bidders will be briefed on their PQQ evaluation scores and the supporting evaluator comments,” the spokesman said.
Another contractor said a lot of firms had dropped out of the running for the EMEE and Housing prime frameworks.
“There was a very high attrition rate but we’re not really sure why,” he said.
The DIO spokesman said 145 firms had submitted expressions of interest but only 50 had chosen to submit a PQQ.
He said: “Through the process of industry days and the responses to questions raised by industry prior to and during the PQQ process, [contractors] have been able to make informed decisions regarding whether they wish to proceed further in the competition, either as a bidder or as part of a supply chain or they wish to withdraw from the competition.
“Companies pull out for various reasons and we are rarely told why.”
Asked whether the extended PQQ deadline was intended to help improve the attrition rate the spokesman said: “The extension to the PQQ period is to enable the DIO to provide debriefs to those bidders who submitted a PQQ for the EMEE framework, to enable them to take on board feedback in their submission to the National Framework PQQ.”
He downplayed concerns that firms that did not traditionally do defence work had largely failed to progress beyond the PQQ stage.
“The evaluation of bidder submissions is a robust and objective process carried out by subject matter experts and the selection of bidders is based purely on the merits of those submissions.”
CN revealed last month (CN 11 Aug, p2-3) that deadlines for all Next Generation frameworks would be pushed back and procured individually, instead of in batches as originally planned.
The spokesman said a date for the release of the next framework was still “under review”.
The DIO last week named the 10 shortlisted bidders for the EMEE framework for building projects under £12m. They are: Babcock Support Services; Henry Brothers; Interserve Project Services; Leadbitter Group; Lend Lease Construction; Mansell Construction Services; Morgan Sindall; Shepherd Construction; Skanska UK; and Vinci Construction.
The four-year framework is worth an estimated £100m-250m.
Dates for the remaining regional capital works frameworks - four English regions and Scotland - have yet to be announced.