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Procurement revolution needs to happen soon

There’s one very simple way to save money: do nothing.

As one contractor put it this week, when talking to CN about the delays to the Next Generation defence contracts: “They don’t have to say they are cutting anything, they are just not doing anything, so it’s perfect for them politically but it is a nightmare for contractors.”

But while it may save money, putting off work is hardly a model of good practice. When ministers talk of efficiency savings - by the government and by contractors - this is not what we take them to mean.

To its credit, when pushed by CN, the newly formed Defence Infrastructure Organisation did not attempt to deny what the contractors involved already suspected: the timeframe for this £5 billion project has already slipped - and is set to be delayed further.

But this is of little consolation to those contractors who were banking on these contracts as the mainstay of public sector work over the next few years - and it doesn’t bode well for less innovative frameworks.

So let’s hope the procurement revolution promised in the Construction Strategy doesn’t face the same delays. Speculation is mounting over where the new procurement models will be trialled, but the main thing is they do happen - sooner rather than later.


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