Construction minister says he will simplify procurement process and stop the waste

The government must learn to be a better client and will strip away unnecessary hurdles such as lengthy prequalification processes, according to new construction minister Mark Prisk.

Prisk addressed the industry formally for the first time on Monday at Building’s terrace reception at the House of Commons and added that he will push for changes to prequalification questionnaires to get better value for money.

He said: “You all know about some of the needless hurdles that go on in our procurement process. We can change that.

“The lengthy prequalification processes for similar businesses with similar work with similar clients is something we must strip away.”

Building understands that a standard for prequalification in the public sector, which has the working name PAS91, will come into effect in September in an attempt to unify the more than 30 systems that exist.

You all know about some of the needless hurdles that go on. We can change that

Mark Prisk

Rudi Klein, chief executive of specialist body SEC Group, said the move had the backing of the business department and the British Standards Institute; criteria will focus on technical proficiency, health and safety, financial standing and environmental credentials.

Klein said: “All we hope is that the new standard will be made compulsory, otherwise you are adding a whole new layer of red tape.” A survey of his members showed that £40m was wasted on differing prequalification systems.

Prisk spent 18 years working as a chartered surveyor, and Steve McGuckin, UK managing director of Turner & Townsend, said: “He seems articulate and passionate. It’s good to have someone in the role who understands the industry. The direction of the journey he was talking about appears to be a good one.”

The head of another major consultant, said: “What he was saying sounded good but it’s not about what is said. It’s about what is done. After this week’s Budget, that will be the real test.”