The Plan for Growth published at Budget 2011 set out two commitments in relation to publishing pipeline data: (1) to publish the UK’s long term forward view of projects and programmes, as part of the National Infrastructure Plan 2011; and (2) from autumn 2011 to publish a rolling forward programme of construction and infrastructure projects where public funding has been agreed. HM Treasury has responsibility for delivery of (1) and the Efficiency and Reform Group in the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury jointly coordinate the response to (2). This explanatory note relates to the second deliverable - the planned construction pipeline encompassing economic and social infrastructure projects.
Since 2011, in consultation with industry, HMG has committed to update the Government Construction Pipeline on a six monthly basis and the Infrastructure Pipeline on an annual basis. In addition, to ensure the pipelines are most useful to industry as a strategic planning tool, all planned Government construction and infrastructure projects, including those in the earliest stages of development which may not come to fruition, are included in the pipeline. This means projects and programmes where funding has not yet been secured are also incorporated in the pipeline.
The launch of the Government Construction Strategy in July 2011 saw publication of the first estimate for the size of the Government’s forward Construction Pipeline, which offered indications of the spending commitments by the key government spending departments. This was welcomed by industry as an important first step towards publication of the full Pipeline in autumn 2011. The Government has continued to work with industry representatives to ensure that the first full publication of the planned construction pipeline met with the needs of industry, helping to secure more efficient delivery of public sector construction projects.
The granularity of information contained in the Government Construction Pipeline has been improved in this edition. We have improved the way in which we track projects through the pipelines. We will continue to work with contributors to the Pipeline to improve the reach and integrity of data as well as increasing accessibility.
Working with industry the Government has identified the following potential benefits of the publication of the planned construction pipeline:
It should be noted that the above benefits support the ambitions of the Government’s Construction Strategy, and the Infrastructure Cost Review Implementation Plan.
In discussions with industry the issue was raised as to where responsibility should be vested for the management and population of pipeline data. Some delivery bodies maintain detailed ‘workbank’ or project databases and it would be extremely difficult to prepare a central database that included every single construction or renewal project that is delivered by the public sector, as the scale of this undertaking would be considerable.
The Government has agreed in consultation with industry that the central pipeline provides a level of detail based around ‘significant procurable units’ and that a sensible balance will need to be struck between data collected and published centrally and data collected and published by individual delivery bodies. This may mean that in some cases there is some duplication between the central database and those held by individual organisations.
The Government has explored options for the responsibility for the management and upkeep of the database and other aspects of construction and infrastructure data in partnership with the private sector and has contracted with Barbour ABI for its management, maintenance and future development.
Industry accepts that the Government needs to take a staged approach to compilation and publication of the construction pipeline, based on a realistic programme of sequential improvements to be delivered over this parliament. We will continue to consult further with industry on future development.
Industry recognises that the pipeline will be a live document, which will be subject to some change to meet changing policy objectives. It should not be seen as an absolute commitment for projects to proceed but used as a strategic planning tool.
Commercially sensitive information has been removed from the published pipeline information where:• (a) disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the Government by affecting adversely its bargaining position during contractual negotiations which would result in the less effective use of public money; and / or • (b) disclosure would, as a consequence, make it more difficult for individuals to be able to conduct commercial transactions.
Public Authorities have a legal obligation under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, to disclose information, unless it would be against the public interest. Authorities’ decisions are subject to challenge by the Information Commissioner.
The Act provides a qualified exemption where disclosure would cause commercial damage and it is likely that commercial information not otherwise published could warrant protection. This is subject to a public interest text at the time the request for information is made.
As noted under ‘Scope and Ownership, the Government has contracted with Barbour ABI for the management, maintenance and future development of the construction and infrastructure pipeline for an initial period up to 2016.
Barbour ABI’s core business is as a provider of market intelligence for the built environment community, providing UK companies with sales leads, contact data and market intelligence. It should be noted that the market intelligence data Barbour ABI collects is entirely separate to the construction and infrastructure pipeline information.