Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence


Comments by the Construction Products Association


  The report has some very powerful messages both for public sector clients of the construction industry and the supply side. Its analysis of current problems is one that the Association recognises and supports. Where we believe the report falls down is in carrying forward some aspects of this analysis into the specific recommendations, especially in respect of the role that product manufacturers and suppliers can play in securing "best value" construction for clients.


  The theme of the report is about removing the old adversarialism that has been such a feature of the construction industry in the past, and replacing it with effective partnering relationships between clients and those who will deliver their construction requirements. This will also help to secure more innovative solutions as a result of the different parts of the construction industry working together to achieve the best outcome for the project, rather than the best short solution for each of them individually. The importance of integrating the whole supply chain is recognised as a key part of this. Paragraph 3 on page 4, for example, states:

    "More attention to design and early involvement of the whole construction team could also improve the operational efficiency of completed buildings resulting in potentially greater savings over the whole life of the building."

  whilst paragraph 5 on the same page states:

    "The entire supply chain including clients, professional advisers, contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers of materials must be integrated to manage risk and apply value management and engineering techniques to improve buildability and drive waste out of the process."

  On page 9, the report acknowledges that the majority of the industry research is commissioned by the construction materials, components and systems suppliers, another good reason why this part of the team needs to be involved at as early a stage in the process as possible.

  Finally, the second case study on page 10 illustrates why specialist suppliers (amongst others) need to be involved from the outset in order to advise on the likely impact of the design on the costs and feasibility of construction, and to agree realistic timetables.


  Unfortunately, the messages summarised above are not reinforced when it comes to the report's recommendations on pages 12 and 13. Indeed some of the recommendations almost seem to contradict points made in the rest of the report. Inevitably it is the recommendations that will provide the focus for the follow-up action and, as a result, why these shortcomings are of particular concern to us.

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