Changing and improving the way we operate

Many NEC users may now have seen the UK government’s recently published Transforming Infrastructure Performance report (Infrastructure and Projects Authority, 2017). For those who have not, one of its key themes was collaboration and promoting a more joined-up approach to procurement, contracting and risk allocation.  

Seeking standardisation

In particular the UK government is looking to standardise and simplify construction and infrastructure contracts. This involves reducing unnecessary bespoke amendments made to standard forms such as NEC and standardising those that occur frequently across the public sector. This has the potential to reduce ambiguity and create greater efficiency for both the client and the supply chain. 

The governments’ Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) is working across departments with Crown Commercial Services and the NEC to create a more consistent and harmonised approach to procurement routes – including rationalisation of Z clause amendments within the NEC suite of contracts.

Promoting collaboration

The government also wants to move to contracting approaches that support more collaborative working. The aim is to reduce transaction costs in procurement and maximise innovation throughout the supply chain. 

In particular it supports the Institution of Civil Engineers’ (ICE) and Infrastructure Client Group’s ‘Project 13’ initiative to promote collaborative rather than transactional approaches to major project delivery (Crudgington, 2017). 

The NEC contract suite fosters collaborative working in the industry – and the new NEC4 Alliance Contract will help to drive this. 

Encouraging off-site

Another theme of the Transforming Infrastructure Performance report was smarter infrastructure. Modern methods of construction such as offsite manufacturing and digital construction can bring greater speed, quality and efficiency – and ultimately deliver better productivity and value for money.

IPA is working closely with five government departments – covering transport, health, education, justice and defence – to put their projects at the forefront of construction innovation and develop a presumption in favour of off-site construction by 2019. 

Leading global change 

With the Transforming Infrastructure Performance report and other initiatives in the construction industry aligned, the year ahead looks to be an exciting one. 

I believe we will start to see some real changes in the way the industry operates to deliver both public and private construction and infrastructure projects in a more innovative and efficient way. 
1. IPA (2017) Transforming Infrastructure Performance, Infrastructure and Projects Authority (accessed 6 April 2018).
2. Crudginton A (2017) Project 13: From Transactions to Enterprises, Institution of Civil Engineers (accessed 6 April 2018).

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