Education secretary tells MPs trial fast-track procurement process took half the time it actually did
Education secretary Michael Gove has made another blunder in his handling of the school building programme, by telling MPs that a fast track procurement process being trialled by government took half as long as it actually has.
In a parliamentary debate on Monday, Gove said that the procurement process on Campsmount Technology College in Doncaster, which the government is using as a pilot for new methods, took “just 10 weeks.”
However, Building.co.uk can reveal that the scheme, on which Wates has been appointed main contractor, took 22 weeks to procure.
Michael Gove was using the figure to demonstrate the government’s progress in improving on the procurement process under Labour, which is widely regarded as having been overly bureaucratic.
He told MPs: “In the project that we have used as a pilot in Doncaster North, the procurement process took just 10 weeks and the school will be delivered one year ahead of schedule. If that is not proof that there was inefficiency in the existing scheme that we inherited, I do not know what is.”
A spokesperson from the department for education confirmed the error later this week, admitting that the 10 weeks referred only to one phase of the process.
A 22 week procurement process is still under half the 48 weeks that a comparable project was taking to procure using former methods. However, the mistake will come as a further embarrassment for Michael Gove, who had to apologise to parliament for his handling of the announcement of the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme after issuing several incorrect lists of schemes that were to be scrapped.
Mary Macleod (Brentford and Isleworth) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend find it outrageous that under the slow and over-complex BSF process, it usually took about 30 months before construction began? What can he to do ensure that the process is simpler and more efficient for schools such as Chiswick community school and Hounslow Manor school in my constituency?
Michael Gove: My hon. Friend makes the very good point that it took 30 months from the moment of starting the process to the first brick being laid. In the project that we have used as a pilot in Doncaster North, the procurement process took just 10 weeks and the school will be delivered one year ahead of schedule. If that is not proof that there was inefficiency in the existing scheme that we inherited, I do not know what is.