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Latham gives Egans interim report lukewarm reception

SIR MICHAEL Latham this week described the interim report from the governments Client Task Force as full of good ideas, but containing nothing new.

The government task force is chaired by BAA chief executive Sir John Egan. Its remit to improve industry efficiency and quality is very similar to that handed to Latham in 1993 by the then Conservative government (NCE 23 October 1997).

Egans interim report which takes the form of an open letter to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott stresses the lessons that can be learnt from the manufacturing industry, the need to eliminate waste and the role of large clients and construction firms in spreading best practice.

Latham said he welcomed Egans report as it closely reflected many of his own concerns and proposals. However, he was less happy about Egans one direct reference to his work in 1994. Egan writes: Latham ... saw a smoothing of contractual relationships as important to creating a team- working environment, whereas our feeling is that the tortuous network of contracts on a typical building project is part of the waste we would like to eliminate.

Latham said it was not clear what Egan was saying but added: I proposed a family of interlocking contracts which would make team working simpler, as well as eliminating waste.

The former Tory MP added that there was more than enough good guidance around, largely as a result of the efforts of the Construction Industry Board which was set up to implement the findings of his report. He hoped that Egans task force would concentrate on identifying best practice and use the CIB to spread the word.

In his interim report, Egan says the task force will set out performance targets, including reductions in cost of building in its full report due this May. Improvements available without increasing cost, he says, include:

a 50% reduction in defects on handover every year.

a 50% reduction in construction time within five years.

an 80% reduction in accidents within three years.

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