THE ICE this week rallied behind safety engineers to condemn the use of reverse auctions in the construction industry.
Last month the joint ICE/ IStructE Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS) hit out at clients such as the Royal Bank of Scotland and Thames Water who advocate the practice.
Reverse or 'dutch' auctions are new additional bidding processes where tenderers who have already submitted a price are pitted against each other and asked to re-submit a new price. The auctions are carried out over the internet, usually for up to two hours, and the computer tells each bidder of their current ranking.
In its 14th bienniel report, SCOSS said that there is no place for reverse auctions in construction.
It has since urged the ICE make its position clear.
This week the ICE fully agreed with SCOSS' stance and said that it will continue to push for the use of non adversarial forms of contract such as the NEC.
In a written statement to SCOSS, the ICE said: 'There is no doubt that reverse bidding is a useful procurement method for components and commodities which are closely specified, particularly in technical terms and primarily based on input specifications.
'However, we believe this method has no place in modern procurement systems for the supply of design and construction services.
'Quite correctly, the provision of such services has been identified as a multi-party, collaborative process involving the inputs of not just the professional design disciplines but requiring at the optimum stage, frequently as soon as design commences, the specialist knowledge and expertise from constructors and specialist contractors and suppliers.
'This is in addition to the need to develop with the client the project brief; in itself a skilled and iterative process which will lead to the definition of specification in output terms.'
The ICE also points to work of the National Audit Office that makes clear that procurement based on price is extremely unlikely to lead to achievement of value in any terms, including outturn cost.
Contractors will also be able to buy a book of 10 'occasional visitor cards' for £15 to give to key site staff without the card.
Such people would still need to undergo a site induction before being allowed on site.
Currently, 550,000 workers in the UK possess the card, which must be renewed every three to five years depending