Guidance intended to cut the number of consortiums shortlisted for schemes and subsidise contractors' bid costs has been sent out by the Department of Health.
The guidance is aimed at NHS trusts planning PFI hospital schemes. A DoH source said: "There will be a budget agreed for bidding costs between the trusts and consortiums. If the trust makes changes later on in the process resulting in further costs, [those costs will] be refunded to bidders."
Guidance on the government's heavily delayed pathfinder housing projects is also due to be released at the end of the month by government procurement advisory body the Public–Private Partnership Programme, also know as 4Ps.
In the past three weeks, 4Ps and the DTLR have held interviews with consortiums that have bid for two or more of the pathfinder projects to help draw up the guidance. This follows a similar series of interviews at the end of last year.
The point of the guidance is to make the process quicker and cheaper
Steve Trueman, executive, 4Ps
4Ps executive Steve Trueman said: "This is a taking of the temperature. The point of the guidance is to see how we can make the process quicker and cheaper. The point is to find the basis for consortiums to construct their bids."
One recommendation will be to improve the accuracy of councils' housing stock surveys. At present the surveys only assess the value of the housing stock in the schemes and do not factor in the cost of the necessary refurbishment work. Contractors have complained that this results in delays while they gather this information.
Industry sources welcomed the attempt to speed up the PFI, which they said was that was also being carried out in other departments such as defence and education.
Stephen Bowcott, construction managing director at contractor Mowlem, described the move as a significant step forward.