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Private doubts


Where is the real evidence to back Cathy McGlynn's assertion that the government 'acknowledges them (PFI and PPP) as one of the best ways of harnessing leading private sector expertise and management' (NCE 6 September)?

In fact the opposite is the case. Many really good contractors shied away from PFI projects on the basis of tender preparation cost and time, and the time it took to get a decision. This meant that expertise was actually lost.

Secondly, and I paraphrase:

'the PPP approach is more attractive than traditional procurement'. Of course it is.

Almost anything is! The question is, how much more effective is it than negotiated contracts and partnering and alliancing?

A cooperative relationship will elicit much more intellectual capital, and deliver far greater gains, than either traditional or PPP/PFI procurement - and the clients, be they NHS patients, school children or island communities, will not be short-changed.

Finally, McGlynn states that because the companies, not the taxpayer, will bear the cost of any overruns, it is 'a massive incentive for the government to continue procuring projects through PPPs'. This thinking will simply push the risk on to the contractor and is exactly how the damage suffered by the construction industry started in the first place. Have the Egan Demonstration Projects not taught this government anything at all?

Professor John Carlisle, 44 Dover Road, Sheffield S11 8RH

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