The public sector watchdog says the inquiry will focus on government efforts to implement Rethinking Construction, both as a client and as a supporter of the industry.
Key issues will be what progress the DETR and the Treasury have made in encouraging public and private sector bodies to improve their procurement and management of projects, and in encouraging the industry to innovate and improve its efficiency.
A government insider said: “It isn’t a case of the NAO coming in with a big stick. It’s more of a check to see how well the new initiatives in procurement are providing better value for money.”
The NAO will consult the industry’s main trade bodies between January and March before producing a draft report in the summer.
Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, broadly welcomed the move, saying he hoped it would clear up grey areas on procurement. Watts said: “The new Competition Act seems to suggest that all procurement should be done through competitive tendering, which throws government partnering initiatives into doubt. So, in many ways, this review is welcome – even if it’s tying up some loose ends.”
The NAO is looking for comment on recent initiatives such as the Movement for Innovation and the Construction Best Practice Programme. It says it also wants to address industry trends, including partnering, standardisation and prefabrication.