Government Construction Strategy 2016-20

GCS2011 v 2016

The Government Construction Strategy (GCS16-20) for the current parliament has been published and there is much to be pleased about.

Firstly, GCS16-20 builds on the work undertaken in the previous parliament and in so doing ensures there is continuity in the strategy.  The distinction with previous government reports is important; this is a strategic document setting out the Government’s aims as the largest client to the construction industry.  Moreover, it explicitly states that it will “build on the progress made under GCS2011-15 and Construction 2025.”

Secondly, the tone of strategy is pragmatic, recognising that this is work in progress and there is still much to be done.  The Government acknowledge that the principle aim is to “improve government’s capacity and capability as a client” and hence, the first of four strategic priorities is Client Capability.

Thirdly, there is an absence of headline-grabbing targets. No longer is there an arbitrary 20% cost reduction target, instead there is a specific figure to be achieved. The strategy states that, by implementing the action plan to achieve the strategic priorities, “increased productivity will facilitate forecast efficiency savings of £1.7 billion over the course of this Parliament”.  However, it does also state that these forecasts “cannot be achieved without a highly-skilled, high-performing industry”.

Whilst there has been some consternation about the loss of the Chief Construction Adviser (CCA) role, the strategy does state how this strategy will be coordinated.   Firstly, there is the GCB, the Government Construction Board which will oversee the implementation of the GCS16-20 alongside the Infrastructure Projects Authority (IPA). “A newly established Strategic Delivery Group (SDG) will coordinate the activity of the Working Groups, and report progress to the GCB.”  And then the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) will also provide coordinated leadership to government.  So we have the GCB, IPA, SDG and the CLC … I couldn’t possibly comment on whether I’m pleased about this and whether we need a CCA! 

Finally, this strategy is more concise and focused than the previous one.  As alluded to, there are just four strategic priorities:

  1. Client Capability
  2. Digital and Data Capability
  3. Skills and the Supply Chain
  4. Whole-Life Approaches

Under these headings, working groups will continue their work on areas such as:

  • Integrating the principles of Soft Landings
  • New Models of Construction Procurement
  • Realise the full benefits of BIM Level 2 and the move towards Level 3
    [Note the funding of £15 million announced in the Budget (See Benedict Wallbank’s post)]
  • Continued publication of the Government Construction Pipeline biannually
  • A focus on Industry Skills
  • Meeting sustainability objectives
  • And finally, but most importantly, recognition for the Government to lead by example in fair payment practices

Whereas the first Government Construction Strategy was published in times of austerity, as reflected by the front cover design, it could be assumed that, given the colourful cover of this latest strategy, the outlook for construction and its relationship with government looks much brighter.

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Construction Matters …

… does it?

After recent speculation, it was officially announced that the position of Chief Construction Adviser would expire in November. Peter Hansford officially steps down on 30th November and there will be no replacement; but does this matter?

Without being privy to discussions that came to this conclusion, I can only speculate as to the reasons why the government believe this is the right thing to do.  However, we can look at the rationale behind the decision to create the position in the first place.  And when we do, the question is …what has changed?  Moreover, it is evident from the Government’s own press release, there is confusion over what has happened in the past.

The need for a Chief Construction Adviser

It was seven years ago when Construction Matters was published by a cross-party committee, (chaired by Conservative MP Peter Luff), and recommendeConstruction Mattersd the position of Chief Construction Officer.  Paul Morrell was subsequently appointed in November 2009 as Chief Construction Adviser, initially on a two-year term.  The principal reason for the role was stated “To overcome the problem of the fragmentation of construction policy and procurement across government” and the position would have “operational involvement in policy and regulatory matters across departments.”  I would concur with Graham Watts’ assessment in the CIC press release where he indicates that he doesn’t see “any circumstances that have changed to negate the need for the role”.

Confused? Government Construction Strategy & Construction 2025

In the announcement about the new Construction Leadership Council, note 4 incorrectly states that the “Government Construction Strategy was developed with the launch of the Construction 2025 strategy”.  The Government Construction Strategy and Construction 2025 are two separate documents.  One focused on government, the other a vision for the wider construction industry.  The announcement may be right that some duplication may have resulted, but this is more likely to be due to the creation of the Leadership Council and having a different focus than the one originally set for the adviser.  The Government Construction Strategy provided a clear direction that I have argued has delivered what the Government required.

What next?

I would argue that the Government needs a Chief Construction Adviser with an updated Government Construction Strategy for the current parliament (the original strategy related to the last parliament).  As Government is collectively the largest client to the construction industry, it is imperative that it shows appropriate client leadership and supports in the development of this important industry.  The Government has long recognised this and that change is needed in the industry, but change requires leadership and the Chief Construction Adviser was that leader.

Note: This post is a slightly amended version of the the one first published on my Linkedin Pulse

Changing Construction

Is construction changing?
Does it need to?
I’ve attended two events recently where the emphasis of the discussions moved on from the topic in question to these more debatable questions.  I’ll accept that both events were focused more on the future of construction, but what struck me was the growing consensus both of attendees that are adapting and those urging for quicker and faster change.
The first event focused on Big Data and the opportunities for construction. The key conclusion for me was that opportunity does exist, but we need to focus on just getting the basic data right first as well.  The most striking presentation was provided by Gideon Farrell who, as a recent graduate with no pre-conceived views, is using technology to advance construction.  He is not focused on changing construction per se, but he sees the business opportunity to use technology which will in turn change construction.
The second event was CIRIA’s Future of Construction event.  I was struck by the positive overtone from the majority of speakers demonstrating how they are driving change within their own organisations and in turn changing construction.  Briefly:
  • Alan Clucas explained how Laing O’Rourke have put DfMA at the core of their strategy going forward;
  • Graeme Shaw passionately inspired others with his talk about how TfL are embracing lean and process improvement
  • The vision for Britain is digital as outlined by the BIM Task Group
  • John Boultwood talked procurement and highlighted that The IUK have produced excellent guidance in Project Initiation Routemap
The one salutatory warning was raised by Tim Chapman who eloquently raised concerns about the need to reduce carbon and how little we are actually doing about it; yet the built environment can and does have a significant influence over all aspects of carbon reduction.  I’d encourage you to review Highways England Carbon Routemap and the infographic (available at the bottom of the page).
Does construction need to change?  As one speaker said, if we don’t someone else will come in and take over.
Is Construction Changing?  It’s evident that there is much positive progress being made and I am personally optimistic that we are on the dawn of new era for construction, particularly:
  • if we realise the importance of Tim’s message that we must reduce carbon and realise the opportunity for the built environment in influencing this change
  • if we can get more Gideons involved; the younger generations need to be engaged in taking the industry forward
  • if more clients embrace Graeme’s passion for taking a common sense approach to improvement
  • if the supply chain adopt a similar value-added philosophy espoused by Alan based on DfMA and digital engineering
  • if we follow the guidance of the IUK routemap
Do you share my optimism? Add your comments below
Click here for click to the Storify of my tweets of CIRIA Future of Construction

Pinterest in BIM – why the Govt mandated BIM and it’s subsequent implementation

This post is still work in progress as I endeavour to create my BIM Pinterest. As Government websites seem devoid of such images, I needed a site with the appropriate images hence I’ve created my own on my website.  So this should be read in conjunction with my new Pinterest.

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Government Construction Strategy

Government Construction Strategy

If the cover of the Government Construction Strategy is anything to go by, you might be expecting a bland rehash of what ‘we’ve all heard before‘.

Or maybe it’s an demonstration that the authors from the Efficiency and Reform Group of the Cabinet Office and the Construction Sector Unit of BIS are practicing what they are preaching … why add cost when you don’t need to?

Aside from the ‘we’ve heard it all before’ argument, I think I can probably anticipate many of the objections against change

  • What’s the baseline against which the 20% cost reduction will be measured
  • It’s all well and good the Government dictats, but the implementers
    • will still be measured on cost reduction, not added value
    • won’t partner the supply chain
  • We’re on all the frameworks, we’ve done what we were asked to do, but we still don’t / won’t get any work
  • BIM will cost too much and we don’t have the time to train our staff

I’m sure you can add others, but I want us to be open-minded about change for a minute.
Look at my interpretation of what the strategy is trying to achieve:

  1. Make the Public Sector a better client
  2. Ensure the Government gets more bung for its buck
  3. Use the influence of the Government’s expenditure to improve the construction industry
  4. Implement the low carbon construction policy

Surely these aims are we can all agree upon?

The Strategy Action Plan

Noble Francis tweeted that the ‘devil is in the detail’ and as always he’s right. And this is where we haven’t seen it all before. The Strategy document is 43 pages long and half of it is the Appendix setting out the action plan. There are 13 Themes and with numerous objectives and specific actions and timescales.

The themes indicate the authors understand the nature of the problem, have listened to what ‘we’ve all heard before’ and set out to do something about it. The 13 themes are:

  1. Co-ordination and leadership
  2. Forward Programme and data
  3. Governance and client skills
  4. Challenge
  5. Value for money, standards and benchmarking
  6. Efficiency and elimination of waste
  7. Building Information Modelling (“BIM”)
  8. Alignment of design/construction with operation and asset management
  9. Supplier Relationship Management
  10. Competitiveness and reducing duplication (whole public sector)
  11. New Procurement Models
  12. Client Relationship Management
  13. Implementation of existing and emerging Government policy in relation to sustainability and carbon

Examining the action plan it’s clear that the new Government Construction Board has plenty of work to do. And my request is that we at least see if they achieve their first milestones before it gets undermined by negativity.

Will anything change?

At the Be2Camp meet up in May, Don Ward talked about collaboration (Never Waste a Good Crisis) and the question was asked ‘will anything change?’

This strategy is setting out an action plan to improve how the Public Sector wants to operate with the construction industry. This should be applauded as an important step in the right direction for change. Will it change?

Not overnight, but if this is what the demand side want, the supply side generally deliver. I’m optimistic and remain positive that this is a move in the right direction. What do you think?

Never waste a good crisis

Value, not price

This is my second blog. The first was written less than 24 hours ago and read by two people: my wife and my SM adviser who suggested I write a blog in the first place. The idea was to write one and see how I get on and develop some plan for the next few blogs.  All very sensible stuff, so how come I’m writing again so soon? 

Well the power of social media came into play for me yesterday. Paul Weston keeps telling me “you’ve got to connect to the right people, you should join Be2camp“.  He tweeted me again yesterday to ask if was going to the Be2camp event that night and here I am blogging about it. 

The star attraction was Don Ward, CEO of Constructing Excellence who presented on his organisation’s report ‘Never Waste a Good Crisis’, published in Oct’09. 

 It’s a concise document that in part reports on the progress ten years after the Egan Report, ‘Rethinking Construction‘.  It looks at the evidence so far and highlights the blockers to further progress.  Don talked about some of these issues and focused on a couple, namely value not price and sustainability.

The value not price issue generated a lively Q&A session not least because we all understand the arguments for value, but the industry’s marketplace is based on lowest price.  And even more so in the current econmic climate with the issue of sub-economic/suicidal bidding.  This business and economic model adopted by the industry is one of the 4 blockers described in the report, but it is unclear how we change?  See Building Magazine’s Comment on the report for a different (more insightful) perspective.

Don was very clear that we need to work together, to adopt collaborative ways of working that are based on an economic model whereby a target cost is set for the project and the team focus, amongst other things on reducing the waste / unnecessary cost.  It’s evident to me that there is no transparency over what this ‘waste / unnecessary cost’ is and if you can’t see it, it makes it very difficult to start reducing it.  But this is for another blog!

The Q&A debate queried how the industry can make these savings and reductions and I refer to the example of the reduction of dead space within a ceiling void.  I was referring to Brydon Wood who have used BIM to make significant savings. One such saving resulted from the redesign of the ceiling void for a 3-storey hospital to integrate the services more effectively and minimise the dead-space. The net result is a reduction per floor of approxiately 500mm, meaning a saving overall of 1.5m. You can quickly see how this can demonstrate a savings of cost and carbon alike in the reduction of structure, cladding and all components that are affected by the height of the building. 
NOTE: Be2Camp Events – Brydon Wood presenting at CIRIA on 12 May 2011.

Don referred to the importance of the construction industry and that if you spend on £1 in the industry this generates £2.84 GDP – see Building’s Charter284 for a better explanation.

Sustainability

Another key aspect of Don’s presentation was on the environment and sustainability.  He referred to the report written by Paul Morrell on how the industry can deliver Low Cabon Construction.  And for me this is where the Q&A session generated a fascinating debate and indicates I’ve still much to learn about sustainability – which is what I was alluding to in my first blog!  As a little aside, getting into this blogging malarky, I had drafted my second blog on the train going into London last night, but that will have to wait and become the third blog – maybe tomorrow!

Can we achieve sustainability with the current business model?

Possibly, but unlikely. And as with the debate on value, the argument has to be broadened beyond an economic focus.  Everything I’ve read about sustainability focuses on the need to consider the triple bottom line of economics, but also social and environment.  The ever increasing cost of fuel – (by the way Mr Osborne, thanks for reducing the tax on my diesel by a penny, it’s only gone up 7p since the budget and seems to go up a penny a week!) Sorry focus, the ever increasing cost of fuel will force this issue, but when? 

SM adviser advice: Be concise, keep your blogs brief and to the point, so I’ve probably written too much! so for now thanks for reading and let’s see what happens in the future!
Rob

New to blogging? May the 4th be with you…

Where to start?

You know the scenario, you’re busy and you’ve got many things to do.  You need to start somewhere, but there’s so much background noise you can’t hear yourself think. It reminds me of the image from the Matrix, the one with all those numbers…how do you decipher what it all means?  You have your work commitments and priorities, your home and social life to live; so where do you find the time, the inclination to start writing a blog?

 

Where to start? How to start? Should you dip your toe in the water or dive straight in?  Have I really got something to say that anyone will want to read?  So many questions and so many much advice to help, but what’s right?

I like the one line adages and one comes to mind as I write this

IF IT IS TO BE IT’S UP TO ME

No-one is forcing me to do write anything, but if anything is going to be written, then it’s up to me. And so I’ve begun.

And what exactly have I started?  Well in my mind I’ve started on a journey. And as with any journey, it’s advisable to know where you are going, otherwise you could end up meandering all over the place and end up anywhere! You’ll pleased to know that I do have a clear idea of my destination, although the plan is still being mapped out. 

So where am I heading? 

Well I’m not going to tell you just yet, suffice to say it is in part why I’m blogging. I want to record my journey and the challenges I face along the way. 

The key focus of my journey is sustainability in the context of the construction industry and academia.  Ray Anderson is the author of the radical industrialist and he writes about the need to influence one mind at a time.  Well I know he’ll be pleased he’s influenced me and in my next entry I’ll write about this influence.

So on Star Wars day, May the Fourth be with you …

Thanks for reading
Rob