Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Local government procurement

News - The question

Several high profile local government projects have hit the headlines recently after running late and over budget. What is wrong with local government procurement?

We have a new department which now oversees all council procurement, whether to buy one packet of toilet rolls or £1M worth of construction works.

They have no knowledge of construction works and yet they are involved in budget setting at an early stage, with little or no reference to the engineers. They seem to think that because they call it a contract, if they use the right project management tool everything will go to plan.

They're wrong.

Sue Higton, 36, Staffordshire For some time I have been uneasy about various 'novel' forms of procurement that seem to be finding favour in the quest for efficiency and speed. It is possible that these procurement measures are less rigorous than time tested ways of awarding contracts.

Jim Goodbrand, 56, senior project engineer, East Grinstead Pay your contractors peanuts and they may well behave like monkeys!

Brian Rousell, 33, project manager, Sussex The diminishing number of technically and contractually experienced staff in local authorities frustrates the effective control of often predictable project 'risks'.

Simon Lawrence, 31, senior engineer, Cardiff Councillors are political appointees and they rely on advice from numerous officers, some of whom presumably are chartered engineers. They generally have no experience or capability in handling even simple engineering projects, yet they have a vote in awarding contracts. The result is inevitable. The solution is more qualified personnel: more engineers should stand for election.

Geoff Home, 55, director, North Yorkshire Many designers do not ask 'how can I build this-' and therefore do not follow the complete design process through, leaving it to the contractor and thus disguising the real cost.

George Miezitis, 54, operations team leader, Fife Council The overall quality of engineering and procurement staff in local government has decreased as the best individuals have been lured away to earn higher pay in the private sector.

Alex Pendleton, 33, contract co-ordinator, London All that is required is a sound quality assurance system. As every good civil engineer knows, this is the answer to all our problems.

Robert Pike, 42, project manager, Exeter Questions need asking about whether smaller councils, which seldom have such big projects to handle, think they can do them and then fall down because of lack of appropriate resources and experience.

Dave Merrett, 50, senior engineer, York Bring back the County Surveyor!

This position had prestige as an important figure of independence in local government with a reputation of integrity within his local community.

DD Turner, retired, County Durham

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.