RIBA to look at ‘over-interpretation’ of European procurement rules
The Conservative party is drawing up plans to overhaul the OJEU procurement process in
a bid to make it more open.
Incoming RIBA president Ruth Reed told the AJ the institute was drafting a paper for the Conservative’s Policy Review, and was also consulting with the European Union for clarification on the current system.
In particular, Reed has been asked to investigate how the British interpretation of the European procurement law could be made less ‘excessive and restrictive’. She said: ‘We have an opportunity to look at the whole business of the pre-qualification questionnaire and how this country may be constraining itself by over-interpreting EU laws. Clear guidance from government to clients will be central to our requests, as will regional engagement with client bodies.’
Architects are welcoming the possibility of a simplification of OJEU procurement, which many agree can be expensive, time-consuming and make it impossible for smaller practices to bid.
Foster Lomas director Will Foster said: ‘To win with OJEU you have to prove you have the experience and that you can deliver, but if you’re a young company you can’t do that.’
Others believe the authorities are to blame, not the system. Gordon Tero at Stride Treglown said: ‘For some procurement managers, OJEU means the path of least resistance. They will pick one multi-disciplinary team so they only have one paper to sign.’
Currently, there are 11 jobs advertised on OJEU relating directly to architectural services, with a total value of £47.5 million. A further 16 jobs require architects as part of a multi-disciplinary team.
Smaller firms say they favour open competitions. Director of Studio Three Architects, Mushtaq Saleri, agreed: ‘Smaller practices are qualified to do the work, but it’s judged by people who don’t understand.’