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Defence Estates seeks contractors' X factor

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'HAVE YOU got the X factor?' is a question Defence Estates (DE) procurement teams will be asking contractors bidding for regional prime contracts from now on.

Like X Factor judges Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne, they will ask contractors to show that they have that special something - dubbed the X factor.

This so-called X factor is one of 11 'soft skills' that DE, advised by consultant ITS, will evaluate when companies bid for prime contracts.

Officials said it amounted to an 'indefinable sense of fit'.

Regional prime contracts are awarded for the management and maintenance of DE properties and infrastructure. There are five of them, which run for seven years and are worth £5bn.

The DE system is similar to the Highways Agency's Capability Assessment Toolkit system. This awards a score out of 100 for each of 10 soft issue areas.

The X factor is then added and the results analysed before contracts are awarded.

Other factors include customer and stakeholder management, managing change, continuous improvement, innovation, shared values and approach to community and environment.

DE hopes that by assessing these skills, the industry and government will understand each other better.

'Three years ago we were in a climate of confrontation rather than collaboration.

'We were starting from a low base and we need to build up trust - first by being clear about our requirements and secondly getting a better degree of understanding about what we can do for each other, ' said DE chief executive Vice Admiral Peter Dunn.

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