The omens for PFI providers are not good from the Audit Commission's report on PFI schools. The report makes for gloomy reading, suggesting, among other things, that the designs are not good enough. This will lend weight to those members of RIBA Council who have argued that PFI has to be resisted. The real point is that PFI as financial and management mechanism has a lot going for it.
But, asWill Alsop commented in these pages last week, what is the point of it if you end up bundling 35 schools together and getting them designed by architects who are unlikely to have been picked for the task because of their design excellence? Not impossible, but highly unlikely under the current dispensation.
Yet the government has the means to change all, this pretty rapidly. The solution lies in the joint document produced by the office of Government Commerce and CABE towards the end of last year, Improving Standards of Design in the Procurement of Public Buildings .Time for Lord Falconer and the other ministerial design champions to get down to business.