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Contractors hit out at increasing tender costs

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Civils firms have called for more streamlined procurement processes after seeing the cost of bidding for work on big tenders escalate.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) says increasing use of open tenders, disproportionate quality bid requirements and poor tender document have led to unsustainable bidding costs.

It has identified nine areas where customers can streamline the tender process or make improvements to the process.

Better engagement with bidders topped the list of requirements, and CECA members also said there were often too many bidders and too much use of open tenders. As well as issues with tender documents and bid requirements, CECA members cited issues with frameworks that deliver less than forecasted revenue.

Secondary competition in frameworks, poor management of the procurement process, quality of post tender feedback and lack of enforcement of tender commitments were also among the nine areas of improvement.

Because of the large tender lists associated with open tenders, the CECA wants to see open tenders to only used where they’re demonstrably the most effective way of engaging suppliers.

“The way in which infrastructure is procured in the UK is in crisis with the costs of bidding for work challenging for the construction industry as a whole,” said CECA head of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming.

“Our research has found that the cost of tendering for a project is a significant proportion of any potential profitarising from its successful completion. This is not sustainable.

“To this end, we have worked closely with our membership to address the challenges faced, and we want to work with our customers to eliminate the costs associated with this bureaucracy, helping to support better outcomes for everyone and help meet the Government 2025 ambitions of 33 per cent lower cost.

“While there may be a case for open tendering in some circumstances, we want to ensure that the costs and potential pitfalls of this approach are well known prior to any decision by a customer to use this route to procure infrastructure.”

The full report will be published at CECA’s 20th anniversary conference later this month.

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