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RIBA reveals plans to improve PFI

The RIBA has revealed a detailed battle plan aimed at addressing the 'fundamental problems' with PFI as part of its ongoing drive to reform the much-maligned procurement process.

The institute has launched a new Client Concept Design Model - a position paper setting out key recommendations to government which the RIBA believes could help tackle issues such as 'poor briefs, high bid costs and [the] poor level of design quality' associated with PFI projects.

In the document, the RIBA calls for the Treasury to increase the funding available to the public client at the preparatory stages of procurement to allow for 'proper option appraisals', as well as the preparation of a well-developed brief, client concept design and a robust budget.

There are also demands for both central and local government to increase the 'availability of design and other professional skills for the public sector' and for professional bodies to encourage the 'acquisition of cross-professional skills that reflect the changing reality of PFI design, procurement and construction.'

Speaking about the RIBA's proposals, president Jack Pringle said: 'We believe that the Client Concept Design Model builds on the successes of the past while addressing the fundamental problems of traditional PFI procurement that have often led to poor briefs, high bid costs and, critically, a poor level of design quality.

'These issues have been tackled head-on, and we are pleased that our proposals have found so much support over the last year.'

He added: 'We have listened to the views of the wider industry and believe that we have come up with a viable and workable solution. This is not inherently new. Instead it has distilled the very best of the innovative and successful developments of the past few years, in both the public and private sector, and seeks to address the very real problems of PFI in a constructive, considered and practical way.'

The RIBA is understood to be 'delighted' by the response the new model has already received from both the Treasury and the Office of Government Commerce.

by Richard Waite

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