Rear Admiral Peter Dunt has taken over from Ian Andrews as chief executive of Defence Estates, the Ministry of Defence's property arm and a £1.5bn a year client for the construction industry writes Phil Clark.
Dunt, a former corporate planning director for the Navy's personnel division, will officially start his new role next week. The appointment comes after Andrews left last month to take up the post of second permanent secretary at the MoD.

In a statement, Dunt said he would be looking to expand on the work done by Andrews. He said: "One of our immediate challenges is to put flesh on the bones of the strategic direction set by Ian Andrews. This will be an evolutionary process, which will take full account of the work currently undertaken within the agency."

Dunt met construction contractors on Wednesday to discuss the prime contracting initiative, which has come under fire from the industry for creating too much risk and being too lengthy. Those invited included Alfred McAlpine, Amec, Mowlem, Carillion, Costain, Mansell and Kier.

The firms' complaints centred on bids for the £70m Catterick Garrison prime contracting scheme in North Yorkshire. One contractor said it was unreasonable to select five bidders when each would have to spend up to £1m each on bidding costs. This position is backed by the Major Contractors Group.

One of our immediate challenges is to put flesh on the bones of Ian Andrews’ strategy

Rear admiral Peter Dunt

Defence minister Lewis Moonie said this week that the prime contracting initiative was still forging ahead, despite industry concerns.

Moonie said: "We have made considerable progress in embracing the new principles and the plan for the future is coherent, consistent and capable of delivery now."

The prime contracting initiative was launched in 1999 and was intended to save money on defence procurement by taking into account recommendations made in the Egan and Latham reports.