Limited number of supplier teams will be appointed to carry out departmental repairs and new-build projects.
he government has signalled a overhaul of procurement policy by turning to BAA-style framework deals.

The agreements, which will apply throughout Whitehall, will lead to a limited number of supplier teams appointed to carry out new-build projects and routine repair and maintenance in small departments and agencies.

The idea is the brainchild of Deryk Eke, construction director at the Office for Government Commerce, and the man charged with modernising procurement.

He said: "There are 50-odd departments in central government and they each go out to tender for each job. Wouldn't it make sense to have framework-type contracts – like at BAA – set up through a single competitive tender? That's something my team is looking at."

Eke hinted that the deals could eventually cover a large proportion of government tendering. He said: "Frameworks will be set up where they add value to a number of central government clients and will therefore most likely cover all projects across the board."

All government departments and agencies – including bodies such as English Heritage and the Royal Palaces – would be expected to use the framework teams. The OGC, however, denied that it would mean centralising procurement.

The agreement would not include major government strategies such as the PFI, Defence Estates' prime contracting programme and NHS Estates' Procure 21 initiative.

A spokesman said that the OGC would manage the pre-tender stage of contracts, leaving departments to maintain day-to-day contact.

The idea is understood to be supported by Sir John Egan, the former BAA chairman who chairs the government's strategic construction forum. Framework agreements were on the agenda at its inaugural meeting last month.

Annual performance reviews would be set up to ensure the government was getting value for money. It is likely the government will insist on pre-qualification criteria to weed out firms with poor safety and training records.

The move has sparked concern among trade bodies representing small and medium-sized contractors. Barry Stephens, deputy chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, called for consultation with the industry before the policy was implemented.

One major contractor was also wary. He said: "I would not want them to set up the ridiculous thing that BAA set up about four years ago to select its supply chain."

The proposal was welcomed by John Spanswick, European managing director of Bovis Lend Lease. He said: "If the net result is they engage the supply chain to deliver better value then I'm all for it."