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Envelopes licked


Your story Highway Agency relies on quality factors for ECI jobs (NCE 29 January) is claimed to be a new approach.

But it has been around for over 30 years - it is two-envelope bidding.

Two-envelopes means the selection criteria in the bidder's first envelope, and the price, used as the basis for negotiation, in the other. The system works when evaluated by opening envelope one followed by envelope two. Has anyone ever believed that lowest price equates to highest quality or that it identified the 'best of bidders'?

The two-envelope system offers a best practice. However, with this should be another best practice - the inclusion of a value engineering change proposal clause explaining how the parties can share in reducing costs during construction.

This clause requires the contractor to submit cost cutting proposals that specifically define the work to be accomplished and how it differs from that in the contract. The contractor is paid for his effort by sharing in the savings with the sponsor.

Prof Albert Hamilton (F), 10 Baskerfield Grove, Woughton-on-the-Green, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire MK6 3EN

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