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Government Construction Strategy: 2016 – 2020

Our response to the Government Construction Strategy: 2016 – 2020 Policy Paper, by Steve Clark, Managing Consultant

The Government Construction Strategy has set out a new plan to increase productivity in government construction to deliver £1.7 billion efficiencies and support 20,000 apprenticeships. The strategy aims to set out ambitions for smarter procurement, fairer payment, improving digital skills, reducing carbon emissions, and increasing client capability.
Building on the last paper (2011 Government Construction Strategy), our view is very simple – the overriding success of the new policy will be dependent on the capability and leadership of the working groups to set the standard and deliver.
Whilst ‘Lean purchase’ was mentioned in the 2011 – 2015 paper, there is no direct platform for Operational Excellence or lean principles in the latest strategy. It is disheartening to see that lean thinking appears to have slipped off the main agenda amid the ongoing debate of skills shortage, BIM and general productivity and efficiency debates.
Public sector construction is approximately a 1/3 of the UK construction industry (2014 total output was £103 billion, public sector pipeline is £163 billion until 2020 equating to £33 billion pa).  Although not the majority it is significant to influence the industry.
The efficiency target through to 2020 is £1.7 billion (just 1% compared to spend) but for 2011 to 2015 it is claimed an improvement of £3 billion was achieved, so the target is now less than the previous one. It goes without saying that this low level of expectation is not going to change the industry or create ‘the burning bridge’ that is so critically required. This is also a long way away from the 33% target in Construction 2025.
Whilst there is much to applaud with the new strategy, we feel it will be critical for the government to engage the sector more widely in its implementation and delivery. The industry is crying out for robust leadership and an ambitious longer term strategy if any real improvement is to be achieved.
We cannot simply continue to hope for the best, something which previous strategies appear to have done. Ultimately, success will be judged on the basis of measurable changes, which result in quantifiable improvements in productivity  and delivery across the sector. Our recommendation to incite real change would be the mass adoption of an Operational Excellence strategy. The framework would be underpinned by Lean Construction tools with a continuous improvement approach to deliver results and sustain the momentum.

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