Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (208)

Thomas Byrne


208. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether value for money is being achieved within the school building programme; the actions taken to monitor value for money within the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37272/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Under Project Ireland 2040, my Department continues to make progress to increase the infrastructural capacity in the schools sector nationally, in order to meet demographic and other demands. The current status of projects being delievered is listed on a county by county basis on my Department’s website at www.education.ie and updated on a monthly basis to reflect their progress through the various stages of capital appraisal, site acquisition, design, tender and construction.

My Department is satisfied that value for money is being achieved and carefully manages and controls costs on all projects in order to ensure best possible outcomes for the investment being made under the capital programme.

The detailed procedures for cost control of individual projects include:

- Using a variety of delivery methods for delivering school building projects

- Detailed procedures in place for appraisal, design, tender and construction of large-scale school building projects.

- Detailed design team procedures that involve 6 stages in the design and construction process with Departmental approval required for progression to next stage

- Design Team fees tendered on percentage basis and then locked in to a fixed sum when design has been developed at Stage 2A of design process

- Planning permission and design completed before tender process commences which gives clarity to tenderers on scope of project

- Contracts tendered on a fixed price basis which gives certainty in relation to managing the impact of construction inflation

- Procedures in place for provision of monthly progress/cost reports during construction and arrangements for dealing with any requests for change orders to existing contracts.

Construction inflation during the recovery of the industry after the downturn has had an impact on value for money. Since 2014 construction inflation has averaged just over 6% per annum and this together with changes in the Building Regulations in 2017 in relation to energy conservation have seen the Department’s published Basic Building Cost Limits rise from €1,050/m2 in 2014 to €1,490/m2 in 2018/19.