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Treasury pushes through D&B

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The Construction Industry Council has all but conceded defeat in trying to overturn the Treasury's 'unjustifiably skewed' promotion of design and build as the preferred method of construction for government projects, after a stormy meeting in Whitehall last week.

cic chief executive Graham Watts told the aj this week that although he led a high-powered delegation of industry professionals, including riba president David Rock, on a last-ditch mission to the Treasury's procurement practice and development division last week, they were 'standing in front of a tidal wave' moving towards d&b and away from traditional methods. He added that his 'Canute'-type reference was intensified by the fact that the views of the industry on the new procurement guidance may have arrived too late, as there is a meeting to finalise the wording of the document on 11 May, with final publication later in the month.

Watts, Rock, rics president elect Simon Kolesar, surveyor and quantity surveyor Michael Coates, Duncan Michael of Ove Arup and aca president John Wright met Treasury head of procurement, practice and development Mike Burt on 28 April to thrash out the industry's concerns at the government's three documents on teamworking, procurement and financial aspects of projects.

The cic believes that although the Treasury guidance is not compulsory, because it is also endorsed by the National Audit Office it will force most civil servants to stick to the 'rigid' and 'forcefully promoted' procurement methods even if particular projects do not suit such methods. In a six-page letter to Burt immediately after the 'very frank and robust' meeting, the cic also points out that the procurement guidance 'militates against the client and user interests through the assumption that every procurement decision will be taken by an expert client' when this is not so; that undue evidence is given to Prime Contracting as 'best practice' although it is untested for government construction; and that it is 'unjustifiably skewed towards design and build (and its derivatives) as a general panacea for all procurement'. The council views this conclusion as 'distorted and partial', especially when considering projects such as the Windsor Castle restoration.

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