The Government is set to hold a month-long consultation on the creation of a single national standard for pre-qualification documents - a move that has been described as a “unique and fleeting opportunity to drastically cut
the time and cost needed to compete for work”.
In a bid to garner a significant level of industry response to the consultation, the Association for Consultancy and Engineering,
Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Federation of Master Builders, National Federation of Builders, National Specialist Contractors Council and the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group have joined forces to encourage construction firms to put their views to Government.
As CN went to press on Tuesday, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills confirmed the consultation launch was imminent but could not specify exactly when the announcement would be made. It is expected within the next few days.
The department has been working with standards body BSI to produce a publicly available specification - known as PAS 91 - for pre-qualification questionnaires.
The document will be similar to a British Standard and has been produced in consultation with representatives from the Government, clients, industry and accreditation service providers.
National Federation of Builders chief executive Julia Evans said: “We have a unique, fleeting opportunity to drastically cut the time and cost needed to compete for work. This initiative removes a major barrier that prevents SMEs from competing and goes some way to creating a level playing field.”
The standard, once approved, could be used by any UK construction client when asking questions in relation to core criteria such as health and safety, environmental capability and performance.
Sources close to the project, however, suggest the specification will be driven primarily by the public sector and could even be made mandatory in the future.
A BIS spokeswoman said: “The BSI will be launching the consultation shortly, with the exact timing dependent on finalising a few remaining details.”
A recent survey by SEC indicated that the average annual cost of PQQ duplication was about £7,700 per construction firm. It concluded the overall cost of pre-qualification to the industry could be significantly more than £1 billion.
The draft PAS will be available for comment on the BSI website. The closing date for submissions is expected to be 9 April.