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Clients told 'put up or shut up' over Egan reforms

CLIENTS WHO should be leading the Egan revolution to create a more efficient construction industry are resisting change, the project's leading player claimed this week.

The Movement for Innovation, which was created to implement the Egan proposals, is worried that clients appear reluctant to allow innovative schemes to be used as demonstration projects, or to reward new thinking.

The claim was made at the 'How to Rethink Construction' conference organised by NCE and the Construction Industry Council. The day-long event was the first opportunity to hear people working on the demonstration projects set out how they are achieving the Egan goals of reduced cost and time and improved quality.

Most had struggled to gain client approval to go public as a demonstration project.

'There are a lot of clients involved in the drive for change but not all are giving total support,' said M4I board member Paul Craddock, an associate director at Ove Arup.

'Egan effectively said to the construction industry: 'we are clients, we think you are rubbish, change'. We can now show clients there is innovative thinking in construction. I think we have to go back to the clients and say we are getting there, so 'put up or shut up'.

'Clients need to involve themselves in the demonstration projects and commit to making them work. Clients need to contribute, but if they don't feel they can then they shouldn't stand in the way of others,' Craddock added.

M4I chairman and Christiani & Nielsen managing director Alan Crane said: 'Clients have to be the main driver for change. They need to say, as the people who are doing better are identified, these are the people we will use. It is equally their responsibility to say we will not use the ones not providing the performance, who do not invest in education and training or have the right attitude to health and safety.'

Martin Reynolds, chairman of client ginger group the Construction Round Table, said he could understand why smaller clients might be reluctant to sign up to the changes demanded by demonstration projects.

'All they will see is risk. They will want to see results before they jump in.' He claimed larger clients had been demonstrating their commitment to efficiency improvement for years.

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