The government has a long way to go to convince the industry that it has become a better client, according to figures released today at a government procurement conference.

A survey of 200 construction suppliers, conducted by BRE for the Government Construction Clients’ Panel, reveals that 28% do not believe government is committed to improving the way it deals with contractors. Almost 40% said they had seen no improvement in the performance of government as a client in the past few years.

Almost half the respondents were unaware of the Treasury’s Achieving Excellence initiative, which has set government departments performance improvement targets. Even more surprisingly, 20% of those surveyed had never heard of Sir John Egan’s report, Rethinking Construction.

But the survey did find that 71% of suppliers were satisfied with government’s role as a client and 58% believed it was committed to change.

However, BRE emphasised: “It is important not to overfocus on the value of 71%. BRE suggests it is important to recognise this figure as a benchmark against which the government target of 20% improvement, for the next two years, can be gauged.” The government is aiming for a satisfaction rating of 90% by March 2002.

Another survey, this time of 66 government-funded construction projects, has revealed that half are delivered over budget and two-thirds are late, though customer satisfaction levels are still high. The report, by the Agile Construction Initiative (also for the Government Construction Clients’ Panel), explains this by saying it simply reflects low expectations.

The survey, which looked at projects with an overall value of £500m and available for use in early 1998, said the use of IT was poor.

The survey criticised government for being reluctant to use strategic partnering, and said tendering periods were short and inflexible, regardless of risk profile.