‘Transforming Local Government Construction – The Power of Framework Agreements’, commissioned in 2006 by the East Midlands Centre of Excellence, showcased current examples of local authority construction frameworks covering housing, general building and highways. It showed the contribution that frameworks can make to the drive for increased efficiency in local government construction procurement, and what the leaders in the field are doing to derive maximum benefit from their frameworks.
It did not consider in any depth the impact of frameworks on smaller and medium sized contracting enterprises (SMEs). It was nevertheless apparent that some authorities had taken SME interests very much into account when developing their frameworks.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), commissioned the Local Government Task Force (LGTF) in this follow-up exercise to examine more closely the impact of frameworks on SMEs. The focus is on experience from the local government sector.
This study reviews the work of five local authorities which have given particular thought to the interests of SMEs in the development of their frameworks and the experience of six contractors involved in frameworks. They have all been identified through LGTF networks. It is not a survey and it does not intend to suggest that those featured are the best or only authorities or contractors pursuing this agenda.
The result is a representation of what they have all done as an illustration of experience and as an indication of possibilities. It is set against a background of changes in construction procurement over the last ten years whose effects are often viewed as steering SMEs’ traditional public sector work towards bigger contractors.
Without derogation from such concerns, this study shows that a good deal can be done to further SME interests from frameworks where, in both clients and contractors, the will to do so exists.