Construction Industry Council sets up taskforce to investigate disputed online procurement system.
The Construction Industry Council has set up a taskforce to assess the impact of reverse auction bidding. The practice, which requires firms to compete to offer the lowest price within a certain time over the internet, has attracted criticism from industry bodies.

The move comes in response to the adoption of the system by leading clients, including Glaxo SmithKline and BP. Their support for the system comes in spite of claims that its adversarial approach is contrary to the Egan partnering ethic.

Robert Biggs, the CIC's senior policy manager, said there had been mixed feedback from firms over reverse auction bidding. He said: "Once all the members are in place, we will appoint a chairman and decide what we need to produce to help our members."

He said that seven members had already been appointed from different sections of the industry, and that the group would meet before August under the CIC's industry improvement committee.

He added that it was likely that the CIC would publish guidance for its members after it gained approval from its executive board.

The Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association first raised the issue of online reverse auction bidding in January this year, after its members expressed concerns over the introduction of the system by Glaxo SmithKline. The firm is now reviewing its use of the procedure.

Once all members are in place we will decide what we need to help our members on the issue

Robert Biggs, senior policy manager, CIC

M&E firms are opposed to the scheme as they are concerned that it will result in clients tendering for contracts on a price-only basis, rather than considering the best value option.

Rod Pettigrew, the HVCA's legal adviser, welcomed the establishment of the taskforce as another move away from the adversarial online system.

He said: "I look forward to close co-operation with the CIC on the issue and will hopefully give them the benefit of the M&E sector's experience on the issue."

In February this year, Building revealed that telecoms firm Cable & Wireless and oil company BP were the latest clients to sign up to online bidding.