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.

Government Construction Strategy

What’s happened to the Government Construction Strategy?060111_1314_GovernmentC1.png

Firstly, I have to say I like the Government Construction Strategy (The Strategy). It was concise in articulating

  • the need for change,
  • proposing what needs to be done and
  • formulating an implementation plan.

In doing so, The Strategy was practicing what it preached by demonstrating clear leadership, one of its important tenets. Separate task groups implemented the plan and after 12 months, there was an update report. At the same time, Building held the first of what has become an annual Construction Summit, with the principal aim of coordinating the key messages and progress of the Strategy.

As I’ve blogged on the Strategy (previous posts link) and I wanted to review progress; not least because as we enter 2015, I was reminded that the principal objective of The Strategy was to reduce costs by up to 20% by the end of this Parliament (i.e. May 2015).

So what’s happened with the implementation of the Strategy?

In short, a lot has happened. Each task group has delivered outputs, with reports available on the Government website. The BIM Task Group has been the most visible with their own micro-site and twitter feed and has been instrumental in setting standards and coordinating the development of industry capability. Progress with procurement has seen the production of guidance on new procurement models and numerous trial projects take place. Moreover, work of the procurement task group has merged with Infrastructure UK who have *quietly* produced some outstanding documents on improving delivery in relation to the Project Initiation Routemap. And there is plenty more positive progress on, amongst other things, soft landings, developing client capability.

However, it’s unclear to me how the Government has done in relation to its original target for cost (and carbon) reduction. The 12 month update indicates savings, but there is, to my knowledge, no subsequent publication that clearly articulates progress. Don’t we need to understand how the Government has actually performed against the key objectives?

I have previously challenged whether The Strategy would result in any lasting change? On this note, in the interview with Stef Stefanou (£ Building) he lamented that despite being an industrial reformer, he no longer believes the industry will ever change. It’s my concern, that whilst there are persuasive arguments for change, we are a long way from reaching the tipping point of a more productive way of delivery.

The Strategy is a good document, a lot of good work that has taken place, however the question has be “how much influence has it really had?”

Do we need another Contract Form?

As one lawyer said “if two lawyers are in the same room, you’re unlikely to get agreement”; so what happens when you have a room full of lawyer-folk!

NBS_UCCC

Let’s cut to chase, my conclusion from the NBS Bond Dickinson briefing “Understanding Construction Collaboration Contracts” is that the lawyers aren’t that impressed with current collaborative forms.

But if collaboration is called for, aren’t collaborative contracts essential?

Ever since Latham constructed the team and Egan rethought construction, built environment professionals have been urged to find a different way of working.  If clients are to have successful projects, improvement must be through COLLABORATION!  Ad infinitum the message is that adversarial ways don’t cut the mustard anymore; the latest including the Government’s new procurement routes with collaboration at the heart; and if BIM is to achieve it’s full potential, “the only way is collaborate“.

I attended the NBS Bond Dickinson briefing Understanding Construction Collaboration Contracts because I recognise that if construction needs to collaborate, then collaborative forms of contract must be adopted. [Review my storify]

The briefing reviewed 4 contracts; three I knew about and one whose arrival had recently passed me by!  The NEC3 is 20 years old; it’s been around a while and is being used.  The PPC2000 has it’s plaudits and is shown in a favourable light by the Government Trial Projects.  The JCT adopted the Be Collaborative form as its own and hence we have the JCT Constructing Excellence form.  The new kid on the block is the CPC2013 (Complex Project Contract) authored by the CIOB.

NBS_UCCCx4The audience were treated to candid and informative series of presentations from principally lawyer-folk. My impression is that the lawyers aren’t that impressed with these collaborative forms. From their legal perspective, they didn’t appear to recognise the management rationale and instead focused on the fact that if the projects go wrong, the contracts will not stand up in Law; afterall what is collaboration in the eyes of the court! Certainly for anyone who attended the event, if they recommend a collaborative form potentially they could be held negligent given that barristers advised to stay well clear of one of the forms!

So I see we have a bit of stand-off.  We need collaborative forms, but what client advisors are/will be advising clients to use the current bunch?  In my opinion this is a pressing issue, and one that will affect the adoption of the new procurement routes and the implementation of BIM …

…. or shall we just leave the lawyers to have a reasonable disagreement!

This is a link to my Storify of the event.

Review of Government Construction Summit

Image

Government Construction Summit

The summit for 2013 is over and the big news is we have:

  • a new strategy and
  • a new Leadership group

Part of my benefit of attending such events is that I’m able to keep up-to-date for my students, so I’m constantly thinking “what will I be telling my students”:

The key message I took from the plethora of keynote speeches was that there were no new statements and we, the industry, just need to get on and deliver – which we can with our new strategy digested and guided by our new board.

Piff the magic dragonThe summit attendees that stayed for the dinner were entertained by Piff the Magic Dragon.  Piff entered the stage with disinterest and focused on whinging about the cost of his tricks and gimmicks; 20 minutes later he left the stage to raptuous applause, having entertained the audience left wondering how did he do that?  It’s magic after all.

I’m left wondering whether the Summit is really just a magic show and whether like the magic tricks, will I ever understand what really just happened and that things will soon return to business as usual?

My principal reflection from the event is that whilst the excellent work being done and talked about in the Knowledge Hubs on BIM, procurement, GSL etc, the take up by industry is too slow.  If these hubs are talking common-sense, then why isn’t the industry adopting and changing?  I raised concerns following last year’s event and referred to Professor Stuart Green’s book Making Sense of Construction Improvement and the same concerns remain:

Is it possible to change the industry?
This is another blog post; as is a more detailed view on Construction 2025, although this article in Construction News is pretty good and is saying a similar message to me!

Preview of Government Construction Summit 2013

Construction Summit 13
The Government Construction Summit on Tuesday 2nd July 2013 is the second annual event focused on providing information that is shaping Government policies for construction; in other words the progress being made on the implementation of the Government Construction Strategy.
My views on last year’s Summit concluded that it didn’t quite hit the mark for me, mainly because the key issues of implementation needed to involve many of the people not in attendance for various reasons.  This year the price of attending has dropped and the format has changed.There is less emphasis on formal presentations and more time devoted to debate and time to explore the Knowledge Hubs. There are four knowledge hubs

  1. Digital Technologies – BIM and GSL
  2. Green Construction
  3. Procurement and new models of delivery
  4. Investment and Funding

You can find me in the Procurement and new models of delivery hub talking about Two Stage Open Book based on my role as Academic Partner on the SCMG (Supply Chain Management Group) Trial Project.

And it was announced late last week that Peter Hansford the Government’s Chief Construction Advisor will be launching the Industrial Strategy for Construction at the Summit.  As I understand it, whereas the Government Construction Strategy (written by Peter’s predecessor Paul Morrell) focused on Government, Peter’s strategy will focus on the broader strategy for construction and in particular set the vision for Construction 2025.