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Olympic park lock-in for programme managers

BIDDERS FOR the 2012 London Olympic Park programme management contract will be expected to promise key personnel to the job for its duration, Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) chairman Jack Lemley has warned.

'We are not going to sit still for a bait and switch, where some of the management team disappear down the line. We want them available to us all the time, ' Lemley told NCEI.

'Winning the job will depend on how successful each of the bidders is in corralling the right people into its team. And we are going to demand a specific commitment from the bidders that we will get to keep those people, ' he said.

Lemley set out the headline requirements expected of his ideal programme manager following the ODA's decision to abort the procurement process for the job last week (NCE last week).

'There was nothing wrong with the original shortlist. But I was not convinced that they had organised themselves to have a signifiant enough resource base, ' Lemley explained.

'We would have had difficulties down the line and it is not in anyone's interest to jettison our partner half way through the project and reorganise.' The ideal programme manager, he said, will be a single company or consortium 'that is led by very, very experienced people in major positions in the organisation.

'They will have the ability to address a wide range of technical aspects from environment to communications, as well as the techniques for the overall project to operate efficiently.

'We are looking for a very broad based, resource rich organisation that we can scale up or down depending on the issues that arise, ' Lemley said.

The programme manager should be able to project cost manage, he added. But the costs will be run by the ODA. 'I am not going to simply contract away the responsibility for delivering the programme at budget.' Jackie Whitelaw . he ODA has received over 700 applications to join its board. Appointments are due in April.

Olympic Village cost may fall to developer

DEVELOPERS COULD be expected to shoulder the £200M ($340M) cost of building London's Olympic Village and media centre.

Under a deal now being finalised between the Olympic Delivery Authority and the consortium which owns the Stratford City development, the ODA could end up leasing the media centre and Olympic village from the developer during the games.

The developer could then sell on the space afterwards.

The move follows a decision by the ODA to relocate the two facilities onto the Stratford City development next to the Olympic Park.

Stratford City is owned by a consortium led by Channel Tunnel Rail Link developer London & Continental Railways, whose Stratford International station also sits on the site.

The evelopment consortium also includes Stanhope, Multiplex and Westfield.

Previous plans for the Olympic Park had only the south eastern tip of the athletes' village encroaching on the Stratford City site.

The media centre was at the southern end of the park.

ODA chief executive David Higgins said the deal would kick start part of the Olympic construction programme.

'All this land is available which would eventually have been developed, but by using some of that land we were able to start the athletes' village earlier, ' said Higgins.

The ODA was reluctant to confirm the deal this week.

An ODA spokesman said: 'We always anticipated some private sector involvement in the construction of the park.

The facilities that have been relocated may be delivered by Stratford City, but this has yet to be determined.'

Competitive dialogue: the ODA's gamble

How will scrapping the programme management tender for the Olympic Park help the Olympic Delivery Authority?

London Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) chief executive David Higgins has unexpectedly he scrapped tenders for the Olympic park programme management contract.

The decision put back the award of the contract by four months, but the hope is that it will pay dividends in the long run.

Initial procurement of the programme management contract was launched by the London Development Agency, before the ODA came into being. It was centred on the project management of construction packages awarded separately by the ODA.

But Higgins wanted to widen the scope of the contract to include design and construction procurement within the programme management role.

This is far more complex as it involves the procurement as well as the project management of several different venues.

As a result, Higgins wants to work with bidders to develop the best procurement and programme management plan for the Olympic park.

He says he plans to do this by exploiting a concept called 'competitive dialogue'.

Competitive dialogue is a term dreamt up by the European Commission to ensure greater transparency in the procurement of major public works projects.

It is enshrined in the European Public Sector Directive which came into effect in Britain last month.

The procedure is meant as a halfway house between restricted tenders for simple, easily defined works contracts and negotiated procedures for more complex projects.

It was created in response to concerns about the lack of transparency in private finance initiative projects. On these, complex and lengthy negotiated procedures with preferred bidders are often adopted.

With competitive dialogue, a client de'nes the scope of a project with a shortlist of bidders before finalising it and inviting them to tender.

If things go well the client can then work with three or four short listed bidders to develop an agreed specification - in this case for the programme management contract.

And from the ODA's point of view it will allow the fledgling procurement body to outsource key skills that it would otherwise have to spend valuable time recruiting.

But there are potential drawbacks too.

The ODA will be one of the first clients to use the method, so bidders can be expected to be cautious about what they bring to the negotiating table.

There could be an understandable reluctance to reveal ideas for fear of seeing them shared with other bidders during the final tender process.

Procurement lawyers warn that bidders will need reassuring that the ODA does not cherry pick their ideas and then ask everyone to bid on them.

Bidders will also be concerned about the potential for being drawn into protracted negotiations with no guarantee of any work at the end of it.

The key unknown will be the ODA's own competence as a client. It is a new organisation trying a new procurement method, so there is a real potential for things to go wrong.

But Higgins and his chairman Jack Lemley have vast amounts of major project and Olympic procurement experience. So despite the potential drawbacks, the decision to go down the competitive dialogue route could turn out to be a shrewd one.

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