This week, readers are incredulous at the suggestion that consultants may be replaced with civil servants to lead projects and in total disbelief at the mess the school building programme is in

Don’t replace consultants

I read with concern the report that appeared in Building 10 February (page 9) to the effect that David Pritchard, executive director of the Major Projects Authority, has indicated that in future, consultancy firms will receive less work. His intention is to appoint civil servants to the lead role in the construction process in place of external consultants. The plan is to train civil servants with little or no previous experience to lead major projects efficiently. An arrangement has been entered into whereby the civil servants will be trained at Oxford University’s business school. Many of the external consultants to be replaced will have degrees and many years of experience as project managers, architects or engineers.

To consider that all this expertise can be replaced by civil servants who have been theoretically trained in a limited period of time, displays naivety. The waste leading to enormous additional costs in projects undertaken by the Ministry of Defence illustrates what happens when there is a lack of proper expertise at the top. When this change comes into effect, major contractors in the construction industry may follow the lead of defence industry contractors, and look forward to some easy pickings.

Roger Knowles, independent consultant

Classroom joke

Regarding your story “More delays hit flagship £2bn schools programme” (2 March, page 9), if this was not so serious for our already troubled industry, as well as the ramifications in terms of education and the impact on the children of this country, it might be considered funny as to how much of a screw up this process has been.
The money wasted on reviews, legal challenges as well as paying high earners to manage this disaster is unbelievable.

Rod McLennan, via

Start with the supply chain

It has been argued that IT optimisation is critical to improving procurement processes in construction, as it is a lack of integration between IT systems that is causing inefficiencies in supply chains.

And while IT systems that support an organisation’s supply chain do have to be updated, how can construction companies justify the capital expenditure required for an IT overhaul, when the UK economy stands on the edge of a double dip recession?

Rather than concentrate on optimising the IT systems, firms must instead be encouraged to optimise their supply chains.

Deployment of intelligent technologies cannot be served by the fragmented supply chain, and thus firms need to embrace the idea of supply chain consolidation. They need to identify one-stop-shop systems integrators that can not only deliver many of the different facets to a project on their own, but can also supply the latest technological requirements, as demanded by developers.

Rationalising the supply chain typically releases capital, that can then be put towards optimising the IT system in such a way that will accommodate the changing procurement requirements.

Kari Baden, managing director of Dimension Data Advanced Infrastructure


In the story ‘Industry fears government timetable for Green Deal may slip’ (24 February, page 11), when ACE director Andrew Warren said that new Building regulations will make it compulsory for homeowners to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes he was referring to extensions to properties, not “improvements”.