Review of public construction contract urged

The main representative body for the construction sector has called for a review of the public construction contract — saying Government promises regarding it have not been kept.

The Construction Industry Federation is claiming insufficient clarity has been provided on the matter and a review by the Government is necessary.

The contract is meant to ensure that in return for a fixed lump sum payment, fully designed and detailed projects would be outlined.

However, according to the federation, the detailed plans are not being provided.

“This is a very big problem for our industry, at present. Government contracts provide a large proportion of the construction work that is taking place.

“However, instead of being a relief for the industry they are currently causing a lot of problems,” said federation director general, Tom Parlon.

“When the Government contract was introduced there was an agreement that, in return for a fixed lump sum payment being provided, the construction company would be supplied with fully designed and detailed plans. This stands to reason.

“To properly work out the cost of a project you need to know the full specifications and exactly what is involved. Without that level of detail you won’t know if there are any hidden costs or any additional problems that might make the project untenable from a financial perspective.”

“When the new contracts were established, all parties agreed that this clarity would be provided in advance. In return the Government would know the exact cost of a project and would not face rising bills as costs rocketed. It was a fair trade off that should help the smooth progression of construction projects,” Mr Parlon said.

The public construction contract was introduced in 2007 by the Government construction contracts committee; at which time the Government committed to review it within three years.

This, however, was not undertaken in 2010, as it was deemed there was not enough data on completed projects to undertake a proper review. Roughly 5,000 contracts have been entered into using the committee form of contract. The federation claims this represents sufficient numbers for a full review to be implemented.

“Unfortunately, the reality has not lived up to the ideal. Our members are coming across a lot of public projects on which insufficient detail is being provided. That is not helping the construction process or the efficient delivery of projects,” Mr Parlon said.

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