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Poor procurement wastes £2.6bn a year

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FAILURE TO implement good procurement practice is costing taxpayers £2.6bn a year, public spending watchdog the National Audit Offi e (NAO) said this week.

Lack of procurement skills within central and local government is preventing construction projects from being procured more effi ciently, says an NAO report published on Tuesday.

The NAO's assessment follows up an initial investigation in 2001 which was critical of the delays and cost overruns on public projects.

Since then, it says, completion of projects on time and to budget by government agencies and departments has improved, with the number of projects overrunning dropping from 75% to 45%.

A 'significant contributory factor' has been guidance from the Offi ce of Government Commerce and its Achieving Excellence in Construction initiative, says the report.

Local government has come under fi re recently after a series of high profi e projects have gone over budget. These include Portsmouth's Spinnaker tower, Bath Spa, Scarborough's sea defences (see above) and Hackney's Clissold Leisure Centre (NCE 3 March).

INFOPLUS For the full report Improving Public Services through better construction go to www. nceplus. co. uk

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