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Olympic ideal

Olympic railways - Partnering appears to be the name of the game for Olympic procurement.

Last week the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) published its Procurement Policy for building the London 2012 Games, promising a consultative, partnering approach.

The idea of partnering on all Olympic projects was welcomed by the industry, as were calls for views from procurement experts. Consultation on the policy ends on 2 October.

As expected, the policy commits most - but not all - projects to using the ICE's New Engineering Contract (NEC) 3 suite of contracts (NCE March 30). NEC 3 is designed to enable a partnering approach between client, contractors, subcontractors and designers and has been used successfully on Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

EC Harris director Graham Matthews worked with the ODA in the early conceptual stages of the policy. He was not surprised that the ODA failed to dictate that every single Olympic project should adhere to the NEC 3 suite.

'There are some areas of procurement where a more straightforward, traditional contract might be appropriate like professional appointments, commodity products and even some consulting roles - the kind of contracts where it wouldn't make sense to take a partnering approach, ' he said.

Wilson James managing director Gary Sullivan is the boss of one of the many subcontractors pleased by the ODA's promise to promote inclusiveness through the supply chain by using NEC 3.

His firm is a logistics specialist and understands the importance of engaging a UK-wide supply chain.

'It's good that there is a commitment to look at the nonLondon supply side, ' he said, referring to the fact that the ODA plans to consult with trade associations on major supply issues at local, regional and national level.

He also welcomed ODA's commitment to equality, diversity and to pay the London living wage.

Chief concern expressed by the industry was the vague reference to electronic procurement. ODA head of procurement Ray Payne said there were no immediate plans to use reverse auctions, but fell short of ruling them out completely (see News page 6).

Timely payment for sub contractors is also a concern. 'When the Olympic Construction Commitments were rst produced, they said payments on projects should be made within 30 days, ' says NEC Users Group chairman Rudi Klein, who is also the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group chief executive. 'Now there is just a woolly reference to retentions [withholding of payments].' The ODA says it will assess the use of retentions on a case by case basis. But Klein says even considering withholding cash goes against the idea of contractors and subcontractors working as a team.

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