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Power player

Names & Faces - ICE vice president David Orr is going to save Northern Ireland £250M reports John McKenna.

Engineers are often a nomadic bunch. Regular changes of office, project or firm, mean that the office leaving party is a far from rare occasion.

ICE vice president David Orr is different.

He has just changed employer for the first time since joining the Northern Ireland Road Service, as a newly qualified graduate in 1974.

'I was trying to slip out quietly, ' says Orr, whose final role at the agency was director of network services.

'But I have heard whisperings around the office and suspect something [like a party] is afoot.' Orr starts a powerful new job this week as director of Northern Ireland's Central Procurement Directorate.

His main task is to improve public spending efficiency with a target of £250M in savings by March 2008.

'I think it's going to be a challenge, ' says Orr. 'It's a tough but realistic target.' To do this, he will liaise with the Office of Government Commerce in Whitehall, the Northern Ireland Secretary, various Government client bodies and their contractors.

'I like meeting with politicians and members of the public because you realise the work is making a real difference to people's lives. That feeling is fantastic.' Orr says it is vital that Northern Ireland's public sector embraces the third edition of the New Engineering Contract if it is to achieve £250M in efficiency savings within two years.

'A big way of achieving the efficiencies will be to make sure that contractors are working with the Government as their professional advisors, minimising rework and getting value engineering, ' he says.

But is Orr sad to be leaving behind his roads?

'I do have some mixed feelings about leaving, ' he says.

'But I am looking forward to my new role, where hopefully I can benefit the country on a wider scale.'

Q&A

David Orr Career highlight: Signing up Northern Ireland's first Design, Build, Finance and Operate road improvement package last January after many weeks of negotiations. It was worth £200M.

Career lowlight: First summer job as a swimming pool attendant - definitely not Baywatch.

If you weren't a civil engineer? I'd be a journalist for NCE - almost as good.

The thing most people wouldn't know about you?

I like cycling - but only when it's not rainy or windy, which in Ireland gives a fairly narrow window of opportunity.

Favourite place? Anywhere in Italy.

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