Constructing the Team suggested about 50 ways to modernise the construction industry. Eight years on, most of these have been implemented
In December last year, Christopher Hill of solicitor Norton Rose wrote a very interesting article about the progress made by the former Construction Industry Board (Building, 14 December, page 41). The CIB was set up in February 1995 and dissolved in July 2001. It lasted for more than six years, under four chairmen and two directors or chief executives, Malcolm Dodds and Don Ward. By an interesting quirk of fate, Malcolm and Don have come together again, because they head the Reading Construction Forum and the Design Build Foundation respectively, and those two excellent bodies will merge shortly.

In his appreciation of the CIB, Hill rightly referred to the non-implementation of Constructing the Team's recommendations for the reform of liability law and compulsory latent defects insurance. The former was accepted by all the participants in the CIB and reflected the proposals of a separate Department of the Environment report, but it was opposed by the Law Commission. That was a pity, because it meant continued reliance on collateral warranties, many of which were uninsured and uninsurable. There has since been a new law on privity of contract. As for latent defects insurance, I believe that it will increasingly become prevalent among clients in years to come and it has always been strongly supported by the Construction Industry Council.

Hill wrote that Constructing the Team had 30 key recommendations. Actually, there were 53 in total. It is wrong to suggest that the only real outcome was the Construction Act, because very few of the recommendations required legislation. The CIB, through detailed working groups and persuasive pressure from the umbrella bodies, brought about the implementation of most of the recommendations, either in the form in which they were proposed or in some equally effective way. Others were overtaken by events (such as Egan). Hardly any were rejected.

The CIB kept a matrix of progress on each recommendation, which continued after Egan reported in 1998. The first recommendation was that the DOE should take the lead in implementing Constructing the Team. That was immediately accepted. The second and third were that the government should become a best practice client and that a Construction Clients Forum should be created. Prime minister John Major accepted the second recommendation promptly.

It is wrong to suggest that the only real outcome was the Construction Act

It was achieved by a flurry of initiatives such as setting up the Government Construction Clients Panel, the Construction Best Practice Programme, Treasury guidance on best value, the "Achieving Excellence" Programme and the work of the new Office of Government Commerce. The Construction Clients Forum was created in early 1995 and did excellent work. It has now been replaced by the Confederation of Construction Clients. There were 11 other recommendations for clients, ranging from setting up a new qualification procedure for the choice of contractors and consultants, to producing simple guidance on procurement and how to choose consultants on a quality as well as price basis. All have been implemented.

There were a variety of recommendations for the industry. The most prominent was the drive for a 30% cost reduction over the five or six years to 2000. Some clients have claimed either to have achieved that or to have surpassed it, and Egan produced a tougher target in 1998 of 10% cost reduction a year.

Six recommendations dealt specifically with people, including my backing for the then still unpublished Construction Skills Certification Scheme, equal opportunities in the industry and the need for greater mutual understanding in professional education. Again, progress has been made on all of them. CSCS cards are increasingly widely required, the professional institutions signed a memorandum of understanding about common learning requirements in 1997 and the "Change the Face of Construction" initiative has stamped the issue of equal opportunities on the industry's conscience – although there is still far to go.