Too many frameworks are putting firms through unnecessary extra bids but failing to deliver the expected work, civils contractors have said.
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) said that as part of its year-long study into the use of frameworks, 71% of members frequently reported workloads that were less than anticipated while 64% indicated a regular lack of workload visibility.
It added that a majority (56%) of members said it is common for frameworks to have unnecessary second competitions while a similar proportion (54%) said frameworks frequently favoured lowest cost over quality.
Marie-Claude Hemming, CECA’s director of external affairs, 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.’
CECA said that ‘in order to start the drive forward towards best practice’, it has worked with its members and others in industry to develop a series of recommendations for infrastructure clients:
- Frameworks should 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 should 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.
- Pre-Qualification Questionnaires for frameworks should adopt proposals being developed by industry for a single industry standard approach.
Ms Hemming said that CECA is ‘keen to start a discussion on how we can make frameworks work for everyone’, adding: ‘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.’