Out-Law News 2 min. read

Government publishes draft 'routemap' to efficient delivery of major infrastructure projects

The Government has published a draft best practice guide to the delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects, which it says will enable public and private infrastructure providers improve delivery and save money.

The Infrastructure Procurement Routemap (49-page / 408KB PDF) has been produced as part of the Government's Cost Review programme, led by Treasury department Infrastructure UK, which aims to deliver efficiency savings of at least 15% by 2015. It was produced by Infrastructure UK with input from industry academics at the University of Leeds.

The document contains assessment tools to encourage those commissioning and bidding for work to adopt common standards and processes in relation to infrastructure work. It encourages those commissioning work to communicate clearly and at an early stage with bidders and suppliers and provides guidance on EU procurement legislation.

"This important work provides the private and public sector with the tools to assess capability at delivering complex infrastructure projects," said Lord Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury. "Our goal is to ensure that programmes are delivered efficiently and represent the best value for money. This will also be reflected in my upcoming infrastructure delivery reviews."

The guidance will be updated in late spring following the receipt of comments on the draft. The Government said that it will stage a series of regional roadshows on the draft, proposal, which has already been piloted on projects including Crossrail and the Thames Estuary project, both of which are included as 'case studies' in the new document.

The routemap states that there is no "one size fits all" approach to delivering major infrastructure projects; however it suggests that certain "common characteristics" should be applied more consistently. Among these are a public, early commitment to the 'pipeline' of projects or specific work; the effective use of standard contracts; appropriate incentives to integration of the supply chain; and effective governance, accountability and timely decision-making.

Crossrail programme director Andy Mitchell said that the tools included in the document would enable sponsoring authorities and their private sector partners to "understand the delivery environment they have, then create the one they need".

Infrastructure law expert Jonathan Hart of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that although the guidance contained in the document was "fairly simple" it was flexible enough to apply both to inexperienced procurement authorities and those with more procurement experience.

"Essentially what it says if that if you are a procuring authority, don't have many resources and don't have much experience, then make sure you use a simple procurement methodology - but if you are an experienced 'intelligent client' then there are other procurement solutions that you may want to adopt," he said.

"However, it is easier for the Government to produce documents and initiatives like this, with consultation now going on for the next three months in addition to consultations on PF2, the Priority Schools Building Programme and airports rather than getting on with the difficult and expensive job of helping to build a pipeline for investment," he said.

Among the best practices identified by the paper is the use of the 'delivery partner' and 'delivery consortia' approaches for higher value complex projects, with the 'alliancing' model used in the regulated utilities sector for projects of lower value and complexity. However, the paper stresses that there may be more than one "effective strategy" in each scenario. The paper also further establishes the use of PFI replacement 'PF2' as the Government's preferred approach to private financing, and supports the use of the 'NEC' standard form contract.

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