Contractors say they need “one prime contract a week” to keep their teams together.
Contractors are complaining that there are not enough prime contracts from the Ministry of Defence to justify the spending needed to meet Defence Estates’ requirements for becoming a prime contractor.

When prime contracting was launched last year, Defence Estates promised to let 10 prime contracts in the financial year to April 2000. However, so far only four have been put out for negotiation.

One contractor negotiating with Defence Estates said: “The flow of projects has been disappointing; we need a brisker flow. We need to be able to keep our supply chain motivated. If they cannot see work coming through, how can we keep them interested?”

Another contractor that has failed to make the bid lists said: “It is hard to justify the cost involved in managing and training your supply chain to the board when there is little work to win out there. We need one prime contract a week to be advertised.”

We need a brisker flow of projects to keep our supply chain motivated


Two other contractors, who did not wish to be named, said that the flow of projects was disappointing. One said: “With so much work out there we cannot keep the subcontractors’ [supply chain] teams waiting around for the opportunity to work on a prime contract.”

Defence Estates is working towards letting four prime contracts. These are a £20m-30m office project in Andover, Hampshire; a £30m submarine jetty at the Faslane naval base in west Scotland; an £8m accommodation project at Wimbish, Norfolk and a £12m project to rebuild an estate at Tidworth, Hampshire Clive Cain, Defence Estates quality director, said: “There are two types of firms bidding: those that see efficient supply-chain management [required by Defence Estates] as a way of winning MOD work and those that see it as a way of improving their business as a whole.” He added: “Firms like Birse and Warings are really impressing us with this attitude.”

n Tony Bevan, the director responsible for prime contracting at Citex, has left the company. Bevan, a managing director of Bucknall Austin before the firm changed its name to Citex, said he wanted to do more project delivery work, such as project management.