Government approves proposals intended to cut the cost of bidding on the Building Schools for the Future programme

The government has approved a series of proposals designed to speed up the procurement process of the £45bn Building Schools for the Future programme that could shave up to 30% off bid costs.

Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnerships for Schools, said today that the government had approved a package of measures, put forward earlier this year, that it estimates would could save up to £250m off the cost of delivering the programme. The measures will be implemented from the autumn.

The measures are:

  • Reduce overall procurement time to 75 weeks from 82
  • Process reduced to two bidders after 29 weeks, rather than the current 44 weeks
  • Only two sample schemes required from architects
  • Greater emphasis on partnering and “track record” in appointment of bidders

Byles said that the emphasis on track record should not act as a “barrier to entry” to firms who have not previously been involved with BSF.

However, he said: “We don’t want to pretend we’re starting from zero with firms who have worked well in the process before. Others will have to work harder to convince us they can deliver their proposals.”

However, Partnerships for Schools has resisted calls from some architects to have greater discussions between architects and clients in the pre-procurement stage of a project. Architectural organisations continued lobbying for these after the draft procurement measures were published in February.

Byles said: “It makes sense to have the concentration of design when things are more likely to be built.”

Byles also said that Partnerships for Schools would shortly commission a review of the operational phase of Local Education Partnerships, the model used to deliver BSF schools.