Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Leader of the House
In my Written Statement of 18th February 2011 I responded to concerns raised by the construction sector in relation to the award of two frameworks to deliver the 21st Century Schools Programme – and announced that I would be commissioning a Lessons Learned Review. The two frameworks in question were let by Powys County Council (as a collaboration between Ceredigion, Gwynedd and Powys County Council) and Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council (as a collaboration between ten Local Authorities in South East Wales, known as the SEWSCAP framework).
In order to undertake this exercise, Internal Audit Services (IAS) conducted a series of structured interviews with contractors and the two lead authorities responsible for each respective procurement exercise (Powys County Council and Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council). IAS interviewed contractors who were successful in achieving places on the frameworks and those who were not. The contractors and Local Authorities that were interviewed all expressed a range of views on their experience of the procurement process during the letting of the frameworks. IAS have completed this work and provided me with a report.
The report does not identify any fundamental errors with the process used in either procurement but as with any process, there is always scope to improve. The report promulgates the messages captured during this exercise and makes recommendations in order to improve any future similar exercises.
The procurement lessons learned outline that:
• Effective planning of procurement strategies is critical to ensuring that indigenous contractors can access framework agreement opportunities;
• The Supplier Qualification Information Database (SQuID) approach has improved the pre-qualification process for contractors;
• Framework agreements must support delivery of Community Benefits policy; and
• Guidance should be delivered to help encourage public bodies to break down requirements into small ‘lots’.
The supplier development lessons learned were:
• SMEs should be supported and encouraged to consider collaborating in consortia arrangements;
• Develop SMEs to help them compete for opportunities outside of their traditional geographical location; and
• Support contractors to attain relevant quality accreditations which will help secure business further afield.
I have instructed the Construction Procurement Steering Group to respond to these important procurement lessons learned.
The Lessons Learned Report will be published by the end of next week and I will discuss these issues further in my Oral Statement on 21st February. I am committed to continual improvement to maximise the benefits delivered from our procurement expenditure and to this end I will be announcing a review of the impact of our procurement policies across Wales.