The construction industry wants the Treasury to fund training to update the procurement skills of thousands of civil servants.

Construction Industry Council chairman Robin Nicholson has asked the chancellor to ensure that officials choose construction firms in line with "best value" criteria rather than competitive tendering. The move follows news last week that deputy prime minister John Prescott is planning to write to the Cabinet and local authority leaders to underline the importance of best-value criteria.

The CIC's move, which is understood to have been endorsed by DETR officials, has been inspired by the success of a private finance initiative training programme funded by the Treasury under the Tories.

Run by management consultancy Price Waterhouse, the PFI programme explained the fundamentals to 10 000 civil servants and was seen as a big step in speeding up understanding of the PFI.

The DETR has criticised the Inland Revenue over its handling of a consultation process that could lead to plans to remove tax relief for research organisations.

John Goodburn, of the DETR's Construction Innovation and Research Management Division, has written to the business tax division saying that his department heard about the consultation process only through a third party, and because of this, its response was late. The Revenue's plan to remove research bodies' tax exempt status is likely to cost the Building Research Establishment, the Construction Industry Research and Information Association and the Building Services Research and Information Association millions.