Much as I respect John Bale (4 December, page 30), I have to take issue with him over procurement
The important lesson Latham and Egan have taught us is the need for the appropriate combination of tendering procedure and contractual arrangement.
Single-stage competitive tendering may be appropriate in some instances. Equally, the early involvement of a contractor may be obtained by two-stage selective tendering. The choice of approach should be driven by client factors such as type of work, time scale and amount of contractor input needed, not just by a diktat of “this route and no other”; building is too multifarious for that.
Although partnering may be appropriate for a programme of continuing work, the danger comes from clients who take small regular work away from local builders and let it as large contracts to major contractors, who then sub-let work and “screw the subbie”.
Moreover, if local authorities want to avoid price rigging, they need to vary their tender lists. When names are taken off the list in strict rotation, it is easy for firms concerned to work out a rota. So instead of inviting the next five or six on the list, they need to use random choice and sometimes include a suitably qualified outsider.
Best value should flow from good professional advice and practice guiding clients to an appropriate methodology.