That is the damning verdict of a year-long study by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association.
Members told CECA that on their frameworks:
- 71 % frequently reported less than anticipated workloads.
- 64% indicated a regular lack of workload visibility.
- 56% reported it is common for frameworks to have unnecessary second competitions.
- 54% said frameworks frequently favoured lowest cost over quality.
CECA has now drafted a series of recommendations for infrastructure clients to improve working practices:
- Frameworks to be based around a clear valued work bank with a commitment to deliver work in the framework.
- Once established, frameworks must be used by customers.
- Frameworks to deliver a specified minimum value of work for all participants with subsequent work distributed on quality of tender performance and delivery.
- The number of companies on a framework should be proportionate and balanced in relation to the framework’s value and the number and type of projects available.
- Customers should refrain from using multiple frameworks for greater flexibility which comes at the expense of increased uncertainty for the supply chain.
- More use should be made of limited requests for tenders from a select number of suppliers, contractors or service providers in order to reduce the time and cost of the selection process.
- Framework operators should only consider the use of mini competitions if there is a clear commercial reason for doing so.
- Frameworks must recognise SME specialisms and expertise.
- PQQs for frameworks should adopt proposals being developed by industry for a single industry standard approach.
CECA Director of External Affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming said: “Over the past few years, our members have indicated that while frameworks can be a useful tool to organise and deliver civil engineering projects, they do not always work effectively.
“There is a substantial programme of work coming forwards in the next few years. In order to ensure smooth and efficient delivery of the world-class infrastructure we so desperately need, it is vital that it is procured as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.
“We are therefore keen to start a discussion on how we can make frameworks work for everyone.
“Over the coming year we will be sharing this document with the wider infrastructure community and others, and we hope that our recommendations will become incorporated by our customers and wider Government.”