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Council to debate Treasury's design and build 'fixation'

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riba president David Rock has provided a full list of reasons why he thinks the Treasury's rapid move towards embracing design and build as the favoured procurement method for government buildings (aj 6.5.99) is misguided, 'very worrying indeed' and amounts to 'dynamite' for the profession. The thorny subject will get a full airing at the riba council meeting next week.

Following the meeting last week with the Treasury, Rock said that the 'naive, skewed and unbalanced' paper 'virtually ignores clients' and users' interests', 'does not face who takes the risk', will waste 'millions of pounds' on unpaid, abortive work, the costs of which will be passed on to other clients; and shows a Treasury 'fixated' on the 'easier' construction part of the process as opposed to planning and brief-making.

He went on to criticise the fact that in the proposals, to be confirmed later this month, no one with the necessary skills, training and experience appears to be responsible in the procurement lines of responsibility, and questions how such great changes can be 'forced precipitously on to an industry whose culture is not ready to accept those changes'. The prime contractor method was 'unproven' - two small projects to trial it are in their early days but are, according to Rock, showing 'great difficulties and slow progress'.

'How can a government-wide change be based on unproven theory?' he asks. He told the aj that there were 'pages and pages of very deep words' but that the documents were 'naive, very theoretical, but dynamite'.

The matter will be discussed at riba council on 19 May, when in his president's report Rock will describe the 'advice' as being of 'great concern to the industry'. cic chairman Robin Nicholson and chief executive Graham Watts are set to attend a lunchtime dicussion of the issue at council.

It was the cic which led the delegation to the Treasury to try and put some of construction's views last week. Watts lambasted the guidance as 'inflexible', saying, 'The government seems to be turning its back on one route and blindly going down another one.'

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