Graham Watts presents a plan for delivering the 2012 Olympics on time
There are winners and losers in the Olympic City stakes: Los Angeles, Barcelona, Sydney and Athens have all been on the winning side; Montreal, Moscow and Atlanta have been regarded as failures. How can we ensure London is a winner? Here are five suggestions:
- Don’t lose momentum: seven years will disappear very quickly. The British Olympic Association and its partners in governments have six months to establish the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. In fact, the first meeting of the committee will be within 20 days of the contract award. Parliament is rushing through a bill to establish the Olympic Delivery Authority and headhunters are setting in motion the recruitment processes.
- Be ruthless: the London bid team has done a fantastic job and deserves every bit of the praise that has been poured upon it. It would be tempting to find jobs for all of them in LOCOG or in the ODA, but are the marketeers who won the Games necessarily the right people to deliver them?
- Strong and integrated political leadership: one can already detect aspects of territorial skirmishing between heavyweight politicians and their departments and if this fragmentation gets out of hand, it will hinder our chances of success. The bid alliance between Coe, Livingstone and Jowell has shown we can rise above party politics, which is crucial given that there is bound to be at least one general election between now and the Games. The buck must stop with the prime minister who should ensure Jowell has unequivocal support to tell meddlers to get off her patch.
- Establish a strong central client authority: the ODA and LOCOG should automatically sign up to being part of the Construction Clients Group. They need to engage the right people, preferably construction professionals, to provide the expert client input to lead the construction projects.
- Best practice in procurement, health and safety and site welfare: every Olympic project should use integrated project teams, with supply chain and manufacturer involvement at the outset. The opportunity for adversarialism and consequent delay needs to be removed. A special Olympic Project Panel should be set up to ensure the swift resolution of differences before disputes arise.
I have no doubts the industry will find the capacity, but it makes sense to eliminate wasted effort in procurement and tendering processes. Contractors should be building their Olympic supply chains and partnering with their design teams and manufacturers now.
Graham Watts is chief executive of the Construction Industry Council
The buck must stop with the prime minister
He is a member of the Strategic Forum for Construction and its Executive Committee and an Executive Board member of ConstructionSkills. He is an honorary fellow of RIBA, CIBSE, the ABE, ICWCI, BIID and the Faculty of Building and an honorary member of the RICS and CIAT. He was awarded the president’s medal of the CIOB in 2000 and the Peter Stone Award of the Association of Building Engineers in 1996.
Prior to joining the CIC, Graham was chief executive of the British Institute of Architectural Technologists (a member of CIC) from 1983. He is a board member of several trusts and committees in the construction and built environment and was a visiting professor at the University of Northumbria for twelve years from 2000.
Graham had a long involvement in the sport of fencing and his competitive career culminated with a Commonwealth Medal in 1990. In 1992, he captained the British Sabre team at the Barcelona Olympic Games.
Graham received an OBE in the New Years Honours in 2008 for his services to the construction industry. He is married with two daughters.