Social housing projects funded by this Department, like all publicly-funded construction projects, must comply with the Government’s Capital Works Management Framework, the objectives of which are to ensure greater cost certainty, better value for money and financial accountability. Also for such projects, the procurement procedures used need to be in line with EU and national procurement rules as appropriate.
To assist local authorities (and approved housing bodies) in this regard, a number of measures have been implemented by Government. These include the establishment of a framework for the provision of full integrated design team services (Architect-led) by the Office of Government Procurement in 2016, which has assisted local authorities (and approved housing bodies) across the country in reducing the time and cost associated with the procurement of design consultancy services, by offering a facility that has already been competitively tendered.
Similarly, the Office of Government Procurement established a framework of rapid build contractors (design & build) in 2017, which has also assisted local authorities (and approved housing bodies) across the country in running procurement competitions and advancing rapid build housing projects to site more efficiently and effectively. Furthermore, my Department has also worked with Dublin City Council on the establishment of a Design-Build Contractor Framework to deliver residential developments through the use of volumetric construction methods. This framework is now available to all local authorities and will open up additional opportunities to deliver volumetric/rapid delivery apartments for social housing use.
Public procurement arrangements are based on fairness, common sense and transparency and given the vast spending that is now happening for new social housing, it is appropriate that these approaches are followed. Properly applied, I do not believe that they present an obstacle in the development of social housing and I also believe that the use of various contractor frameworks, which have already been competitively tendered, is an effective way to accelerate the advancement of projects while complying with procurement procedures.