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RIBA launches consultation on PFI revolution

The RIBA has launched what it is calling the 'first comprehensive review of PFI since the procurement initiative began nearly 15 years ago'.

The institute has started a consultation on its policy of introducing a 'smarter PFI' to the construction industry.

The PFI Best Practice consultation, which runs to 23 December, is seeking the views of the broader industry - government departments, construction-industry bodies and RIBA members - on a two-part paper drafted by the RIBA for discussion.

The high profile initiative - which has long been trailed by president Jack Pringle - aims to address these perceived issues:

to improve the overall design of PFI buildings;

to bring the public sector and user clients closer to the design team and the design process; and

to reduce the time and cost of bidding for PFI projects.

The first part of the consultation paper sets out two new models of alternative PFI procurement drawn up by the institute.

In the second part, a PFI Best Practice Charter is set out for comment. The draft Charter aims to set out basic terms of good practice, that are generally well understood by the industry, but not always adhered to.

Speaking on Friday, Pringle insisted that the profession must work with the procurement system even if it doesn't like it.

'The Treasury developed PFI and it is here to stay. It's up to us in the industry to improve it - we want a 'smart PFI' that delivers design quality and lower bidding costs.

'It's important we get this right. Rebuilding the public estate happens only once every two generations and we're determined to leave a legacy of good design and excellence rather than mediocrity and wasted opportunities.

'With £20 billion of investment over the next 15 years, the power to transform the nation's schools and hospitals is there.

'Now we need to work out the best way to do it - and the first stage of that is listening to the industry,' he added.

The full consultation document can be downloaded at www.architecture.comFor further information or to contribute to the consultation, please contact Ewan Willars, RIBA head of policy, on 020 7307 3741 or at ewan.willars@inst.riba.org

by Ed Dorrell

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