Global consultancy and construction firm, Mace, which with JV partner Dragados, recently won a £1.6bn contract from the Government to head construction of the new HS2 station at Euston, has called for public sector procurement to be ‘revolutionised’ after Brexit. Without a major overhaul, the company says, over £19 billion will be wasted every year to 2030 unless the Government gets better value from major infrastructure projects.
In a newly-published report, Mace reveals that 80% of big infrastructure projects are completed late and over budget, while under-delivering on the desired benefits. The study finds that awards for large-scale infrastructure projects owe more to political pressures than to sound and thorough cost-benefit analyses. Professionals in public sector procurement and supply chain jobs are often forced to guess fixed-point price estimates before accurate cost predictions are possible, the report states.
The company calls on the Government to create a ‘Department for Growth’ tasked with integrating and overseeing different aspects of infrastructure delivery, which are currently handled by separate departments. Also, Mace recommends setting up a panel of ‘industry heavyweights’ outside of existing public sector structures who will subject cost and timetables to independent scrutiny. The company lays a significant part of the blame for inefficiencies at the feet of unwieldy and unnecessary bureaucracy plus labyrinthine rules in the public sector procurement process, most of which have been imposed by the EU. On Britain’s departure from the latter, these should be scrapped, Mace advocates.
HS2 remains Britain’s largest construction project. It has not only seen costs rocket from £33 billion to £56 billion but is now considering lowering train speeds in a bid to prevent extra cost overruns – a move that would compromise one of the key benefits the scheme promised to deliver. If heeded, professionals holding public sector procurement jobs, whether as procurement or supply chain interims or permanent staff members, could see their work subjected to radical change post-Brexit.