The Government Construction Strategy (GCS16-20) for the current parliament has been published and there is much to be pleased about.
Firstly, GCS16-20 builds on the work undertaken in the previous parliament and in so doing ensures there is continuity in the strategy. The distinction with previous government reports is important; this is a strategic document setting out the Government’s aims as the largest client to the construction industry. Moreover, it explicitly states that it will “build on the progress made under GCS2011-15 and Construction 2025.”
Secondly, the tone of strategy is pragmatic, recognising that this is work in progress and there is still much to be done. The Government acknowledge that the principle aim is to “improve government’s capacity and capability as a client” and hence, the first of four strategic priorities is Client Capability.
Thirdly, there is an absence of headline-grabbing targets. No longer is there an arbitrary 20% cost reduction target, instead there is a specific figure to be achieved. The strategy states that, by implementing the action plan to achieve the strategic priorities, “increased productivity will facilitate forecast efficiency savings of £1.7 billion over the course of this Parliament”. However, it does also state that these forecasts “cannot be achieved without a highly-skilled, high-performing industry”.
Whilst there has been some consternation about the loss of the Chief Construction Adviser (CCA) role, the strategy does state how this strategy will be coordinated. Firstly, there is the GCB, the Government Construction Board which will oversee the implementation of the GCS16-20 alongside the Infrastructure Projects Authority (IPA). “A newly established Strategic Delivery Group (SDG) will coordinate the activity of the Working Groups, and report progress to the GCB.” And then the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) will also provide coordinated leadership to government. So we have the GCB, IPA, SDG and the CLC … I couldn’t possibly comment on whether I’m pleased about this and whether we need a CCA!
Finally, this strategy is more concise and focused than the previous one. As alluded to, there are just four strategic priorities:
- Client Capability
- Digital and Data Capability
- Skills and the Supply Chain
- Whole-Life Approaches
Under these headings, working groups will continue their work on areas such as:
- Integrating the principles of Soft Landings
- New Models of Construction Procurement
- Realise the full benefits of BIM Level 2 and the move towards Level 3
[Note the funding of £15 million announced in the Budget (See Benedict Wallbank’s post)]
- Continued publication of the Government Construction Pipeline biannually
- A focus on Industry Skills
- Meeting sustainability objectives
- And finally, but most importantly, recognition for the Government to lead by example in fair payment practices
Whereas the first Government Construction Strategy was published in times of austerity, as reflected by the front cover design, it could be assumed that, given the colourful cover of this latest strategy, the outlook for construction and its relationship with government looks much brighter.
[See my previous posts on the Government Construction Strategy]
Rob Garvey is a Senior Lecturer at University of Westminster