Client Defence Estates is moving away from using PFI to procure major new schemes, its chief executive said last week.

Speaking at last Wednesday’s Property Club Movers & Shakers breakfast meeting, rear admiral Peter Dunt said defence PFIs had suffered problems in recent history.

Dunt said: “There are some difficult areas, especially with some PFIs. They can become very complicated and go on for too long and are very difficult to close. Although PFI will still be a weapon in our armoury, prime contracts will be our preferred option as they produce good value for money.”

Dunt pointed to the success of the regional prime contracts launched in 2002. He said: “We have kept to the programme. That’s key to our approach in the future.”

Dunt said there was no reason for cost or time overruns on schemes if the client’s brief was clear.

He also called for greater co-ordination between departments on benchmarking their performance as construction clients. He said: “We do not do as well as we ought to. There’s a role for the Office of Government Commerce in this.”