Construction News - You were involved in the launch of Smarte East this month. Where do things go from here?
Neil Jarrett -The next step is to get buy in from the Regional Centres of Excellence. We have set up a meeting with them. At the launch we had the people there from the Smarte East who were very supportive so we hope we will get support from them for a national roll out. In three or four of the regions there are three or four clients that we are in touch with that are already prepared to put volumes of work through. It is important to secure commitment in each of the regions from two or three clients to put some volume through. We will then do a national advert in the Official Journal of the European Union that will cover each of the regions. Then we’ll go through the procurement process and effectively roll out in the same way that Smarte East has been rolled out.
CN – When will this meeting be?
NJ - The meetings with the regional centres will be this month. The key was to get Smarte East to this point. Having done that we have shown how it can be done and the methodologies.
CN - Do you have clients on board in the regions?
NJ - With Constructing Excellence we have been bring clients on board already so there are some regions that are covered already. The south east has the South East Centre for Excellence frmaeworks, which was set up by Hampshire. In other regions we have been looking to get at least 2-3 clients that are prepared to follow the model. We have had workshops and meetings in the North East, Yorkshire, North West and the East and West Midlands. It’s a bit early to say who the clients are. The South west has an initiative going already but it would need developing as a regional procurement initiative.
CN – What about London?
NJ - London is very difficult. We tried to do London but we had a dinner and invited the authorities. But when we went to see them they couldn’t work because of the political problems.
CN – How long will the whole process take?
NJ - It depends on buy-in. The process of getting to OJEU can take anything from three months to a year but I am hoping it will be closer to three months because of the lessons from Smarte East. If you try to get all of them on board and committing volume at the start, they will talk forever. If we can get a couple of keen ones, which is the strategy we are going with now, and then others come on board afterwards. I think that would save a lot of the politics. I think that if we say it will take 3-6 months to get through the policy and bureaucracy, and then 12 months to procure it will be 18 months before the national framework is in place.
CN - How will the frameworks function?
NJ - We have three models for the regional collaboration. It could just be a regional collaboration without any vehicle doing things. A lot of them start like that. As they build trust and get to know each other they set up a vehicle. It will depend on how mature they are and how well they get on in the regions. The problem is that if they are not working together at the start then other counties could see that as a threat and turn against it so the key is to get them involved and then decide how to model it. The other options are having a vehicle set up to procurement of the frameworks. The ultimate is the vehicle does procurement and work, which would be great for shared services. An example of this is LAPN (London ALMO Procurement Network, a 10 local housing organisations that have come together to share resources for procuring housing maintenance). It has started to hire people and instead of having separate procurement departments, they are all going into one unit in the middle and doing it on behalf .
CN – What kind of work will be done by framework partners?
NJ - Public sector building work not including housing and civil engioneering. But we are doing things in all three sectors so we have been setting out regional procurement in housing and have been doing stuff with the Highways Agency where we have six counties in the Midlands coming together for regional procurement. But this particular initiative is about property so it is all types of building. It is likely to be used by the public sector. It is ideal for one off clients. We are talking to the Construction Clients Group because there is an issue as to how one off clients get into partnering, how they become good clients. This is the answer. They can link into a framework that is already there and get the benefits in the long term because the contractors on a one off project are likely to exploit the situation. If they are in a framework they get the benefits of shortened procurement time and also reduce cost and long term relationships that have been built up and the incentive to improve. It could be district councils building the odd school or a municipal building. Private sector clients could even get involved.
CN – What services other than construction might be procured using frameworks?
NJ - We’ve got project managers so the next step is designers. We have a meeting with Partnerships for Schools next week and it will depend on where they are going in terms of their policy. Ideally we would like to deliver the BSF programme through the regional frameworks and we can save a fortune in terms of setting up the LEP in time and money. We are meeting Tim Byles next week and it will depend on what their attitude are and where their review is, as to whether they will allow a shortened procurement process using regional frameworks. There is potential for secondary schools through BSF. If we do that we will need ICT, designers and funders. We will have frameworks with all the key categories of organisations – contractors, designers, project managers, ICT, Finance, strategic client advisors.
CN - What sort of volume of work can we expect going through the frameworks?
NJ - I think it depends. It has huge potential. A key part will be what BSF does in terms of the primary and secondary school programme. Then also how successful it is in marketing to one off clients. If you look at the Eastern region there is £1 billion of work that could go through the framework. Burt we don’t want top make the same mistake the ProCure 21 made of saying they had a massive programme then didn’t get buy in from the trust so they didn’t get the volume through. We have started small and said that we are going to have £120 million first and then we will do a rolling procurement exercise as it builds up. We know we have the volumes to make it work as it is. If it takes off it could be a billion. Its £100 million a year in the eastern region, and you are looking at six or seven other regions then it is a lot of money.