New Egan report threatens public bodies with reduced funding if they fail to demonstrate best practice policies.
public sector clients that fail to use Constructionline, the contractor vetting list, could face financial sanctions, warned Sir John Egan.

Egan, chairman of the strategic forum, said that in future clients would have to demonstrate that they had hit best practice targets, an essential element of Constructionline contracts, or run the risk of having their funding reduced after audits.

He said he wanted 80% of public sector clients to be using Constructionline in four years.

Egan revealed his plans in a consultation document, Accelerating Change, launched this week.

Under the proposals the strategic forum would set best practice targets and the National Audit Office would check that these standards had been met. Failure to hit them could lead to a reduction in the client’s government funding.

The decision to link Constructionline with target-setting of this kind could provide a boost for the vetting process, which has faced intense criticism from the industry and government because few contractors and clients use it.

Egan, speaking at the launch of the report, said the audit process would be used to spread the message of best practice procurement across government departments.

He said audit office scrutiny of public sector projects would also encourage local authorities and government departments to use Constructionline.

Public sector clients may find that they have their funding squeezed

Sir John Egan

Egan said: “Unless public sector clients start adopting the principles of best practice then they may find that they have their central government funding squeezed.”

The report, which is the follow-up to Egan’s 1998 Rethinking Construction, emphasised the need for the public sector to demonstrate that it is a best practice client.

It said: “Representing 40% of construction orders, the public sector can make a substantial difference to the widespread adoption of Rethinking Construction principles.”

A spokesperson for Constructionline operator Capita said client usage in the public sector had increased 25% for the 12 months ending January 2002.

She said: “ We are working very closely with the local government taskforce to build on this, and a report will be issued shortly.”

Building revealed earlier this month that Accelerating Change recommended the creation of a corps of independent construction advisers, drawn from existing professions, who would be provided with a new code of practice.