Scotland business

Scotland's public construction contracts review announced

Image caption Scotland's public sector spends more than £2bn a year on construction-related contracts

The Scottish government has announced a "root and branch" review of the way Scotland's public construction contracts are awarded.

The review will look at ways to improve current procurement practices, in order to boost economic growth.

The move follows complaints by construction industry representatives that bureaucracy was getting in the way of big projects.

Construction contracts account for more than £2bn of public procurement spend.

The review will be led by KPMG non-executive director Robin Crawford and Ken Lewandowski, former chairman of the Clydesdale Bank Financial Solution Centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Infrastructure Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "Scotland's public sector spends over £2bn per annum on construction-related contracts.

"The review will examine how we can improve the impact of this spending on Scotland's economic growth and on the quality of Scotland's built environment."

'Maximum gains'

Ms Sturgeon added: "In spite of Westminster's significant cuts to our capital budget, we are working flat out to maximise investment in infrastructure projects and to improve the way the procurement system operates.

"This review will play a fundamental role in paving the way forward for our construction sector, helping to support jobs, to promote sustainable working practices and, most importantly, reaping maximum gains for Scotland's economy."

Mr Crawford, who will chair the review, said in the current economic climate it was essential for both the construction industry and its clients that the procurement system operated as efficiently as possible.

"We will draw on the best examples of good practice in procurement in both the public and private sectors and will take account of earlier relevant reports on aspects of this issue," he said.

"I am determined that the review will both identify what needs to change and will put in place measures that ensure that the necessary improvements are delivered."

He added: "We will listen carefully to the views of all stakeholders before reaching our conclusions."

The review is expected to be completed by next summer.

'Long overdue'

The announcement was welcomed by the Scottish Building Federation, which last month complained to MSPs that bureaucracy was getting in the way of big building projects.

Chief executive Michael Levack said a review of the public procurement process was "long overdue".

"I hope the review can reach some rapid conclusions so the measures needed to streamline procurement can be implemented as quickly as possible," he commented.

"From bitter experience, our members know how much unnecessary cost and inefficiency currently exists in the public procurement system.

"It cannot be right for so much public money to be swallowed up by burdensome bureaucracy when it ought to be putting shovels in the ground."

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