Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (318)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

318. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department is undertaking a review of construction procurement policy; the review terms of reference; the person or body on the review panel; when the review is due to conclude; and if he will provide an interim update on the review. [26765/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF) represents the tools that a public body must use to procure and manage the external resources necessary to deliver a public works project that is to be delivered under the Exchequer-funded element of the National Development Plan.

A review of the policies and practices deployed in the procurement of public works projects was commenced in March 2019.  The review is being conducted by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) with the support of the Government Construction Contracts Committee (GCCC). The focus of the review is on improving the delivery of construction projects in terms of quality, timely delivery and cost outcomes. 

The OGP has developed a high-level strategy with the GCCC to guide the implementation which will be addressed primarily through the progressive refinement and enhancement of the CWMF.  The following objectives summarise the strategy:

The CWMF will enable the delivery of sustainable assets under the NDP by:

- Developing procurement and contracting strategies that prioritise quality solutions and support the most efficient means of delivery;

- Embedding appropriate risk management measures within the project development, procurement and construction stages;

- Deploying digital solutions throughout the project delivery stages.

The review will deliver significant changes to the CWMF over the coming years. The OGP has prepared a methodology for extensive structured engagement, both with industry stakeholders, and with the public bodies charged with the delivery of public works projects to inform the implementation of the strategy. It is planned to publish a series of position papers on a broad range of issues to foster debate and engagement on specific issues such as:

- price variation;

- risk management;

- creating a better quality: price balance in the award of contracts;

- adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) on public works projects;

- liability, indemnity and insurance requirements;

- performance evaluation;

- encouraging collaborative working.

Risk and quality information are two aspects that will inform any amendments that may be introduced to the CWMF.  Risk is to be brought front and centre with regards to the decisions that are to be taken during a project’s development.  It will be a requirement for risk to be identified at the outset and evaluated before determining how it is best addressed and, crucially, who is to manage it.  Risk weightings will be applied to projects which will translate to a contingency sum at each of a project’s review gates.

Quality information will become a central tenet to all aspects of project delivery.  Standards will be set for information at all stages of a project’s development.  Whilst this measure is being introduced to ensure informed decisions are made at critical points in the project’s development it also anticipates the widespread adoption of BIM across the NDP over the coming years.

Upon conclusion of the consultation period for each issue, the GCCC will prepare a recommendation for approval at the appropriate level.  It is envisaged that the process of engagement will extend over the next 12 – 18 months, however where the GCCC’s recommendations are accepted they may be implemented without waiting for the entire process to conclude providing it is practicable to do so.

The onset of Covid-19 impacted on the conduct of the review both in terms of engagement with stakeholders and reassignment of internal resources in order to address the impact of the shutdown and the restart phase on the NDP.

- The initial focus is on the engagement of consultancy services, which is aimed at driving better project definition, in order to provide greater certainty for all those engaged in the construction stage.  Overall improvement in project definition is required through establishing minimum standards for information at the different stages of a project’s development.  A consultation paper was published in May 2019 setting out four measures that will improve the service provided:

1. Setting minimum standards for Project Briefs;

2. Establishing standard definitions for the scope of services required from the main consultancy appointments;

3. Linking the fee makeup to the scope of services;

4. Introducing clear reporting lines for each member of the design team with a particular focus on cost reporting.

1. Work is ongoing on the detailed implementation aspects which will be delivered by means of changes to the template tender documents, publication of new guidance material and exploring digital solutions to the presentation of 2) and 3) above.  Work on implementing the changes will commence in 2021.

- A review of the price variation mechanisms used in both the CWMF consultancy and construction contracts is currently underway with a view to publish revised contracts and guidance on price variation mechanisms early in 2021.

- BIM has the potential to transform the processes surrounding project and data management on construction projects and can drive significant efficiencies.  The OGP is currently engaged with National Standards Authority of Ireland on preparing a national annex to the international standard (ISO) for BIM implementation.  The aim is to ensure a consistent approach to its application across the public and private sectors.  An implementation plan for the adoption of BIM will be launched shortly setting out dates for a phased adoption of BIM.

- The OGP is engaging with key stakeholders on the issue of liability, indemnities and insurance and is also reviewing broader aspects of the required terms in the contracts used to engage design teams and contractors.  A number of meetings have been held in February/March with further engagement necessary before a position paper is prepared for consultation purposes.

- Engagement is ongoing in developing standard metrics for life cycle costing and life cycle analysis that can be applied to the evaluation of projects’ cost of use in service and full life cycle analysis, including the carbon impact of individual projects.  The OGP is liaising with the GCCC and the Irish Green Building Council in developing these metrics.

- The Cost Control Templates published under the CWMF are undergoing review to incorporate the International Construction Measurement Standard (ICMS).  A working group has been established and revised templates will be published in 2021. ICMS is a global standard for benchmarking and reporting of construction project cost and covers both capital and whole life costing while providing a way of presenting costs in a consistent format.