New ‘Gold Standard’ verification for procurement frameworks

New ‘Gold Standard’ verification for procurement frameworks

The UK government’s Cabinet Office published an independent review of over 2,000 public sector construction procurement frameworks called Constructing the Gold Standard (Mosey, 2021). It set out 24 key recommendations to bring government and industry together to tackle waste, secure value for money and drive innovation to achieve better, faster,safer and greener outcomes.

The ‘Gold Standard’ was subsequently endorsed in the 2022 update of The Construction Playbook (HM Government, 2022). I am now pleased to report that UK industry platform Constructing Excellence and King’s College London have launched a ‘Constructing the Gold Standard Verification’ scheme in November 2023 (Construction Excellence, 2023). This aims to validate and verify claims made by framework providers and also provide a measure of quality for both clients who use frameworks and for suppliers who bid for frameworks.

Framework providers wishing to obtain verification are required to submit applications via Constructing Excellence, which will carry out an independent verification and assessment on how they comply or plan to adopt each of the 24 Gold Standard recommendations. Seven clients and framework providers are currently piloting the scheme: Ministry of Justice, Environment Agency, Scape, CHIC, LHC, Places for People and Crown Commercial Service.

NEC alignment

NEC’s mission from the outset has been to,‘provide clarity, flexibility and stimulate good management’ and, as I mentioned in 2022, the NEC suite of contracts complement many of the Gold Standard recommendations.

At the heart of the recommendations is a drive to ensure that all public sector construction frameworks prioritise net zero greenhouse gas emissions. Through NEC Option X29 on climate change, NEC users can support, incentivise and tangibly demonstrate carbon dioxide reduction initiatives on future builds across the sector.

The Gold Standard recommendations recognise the importance of improving supplier investments in modern methods of construction and other offsite technologies. NEC contracts provide several processes that can be used to support the successful integration of offsite manufacturing into the creation and maintenance of assets. 

‘Golden thread’

Just as important is Option X10 on information modelling, which can be selected to cover the contractual matters related to the creation or updating of an information model supporting the Gold Standard aim to create a whole-life ‘golden thread’ of asset information.

Early supply chain involvement is another key recommendation. NEC Option X22 on early contractor involvement facilitates early appointment of the supply chain to work with consultants and others improve economic, social, safety and environmental outcomes.

Incentivisation and innovation are critical elements of any successful projects and I have previously spoken about the benefit of creating specifications that focus on required client outcomes. NEC is well structured to support this element of the Gold Standard recommendations with Option X12 on multiparty collaboration, X20 on key performance indicators, X17 on low performance damages and X29 on climate change performance.

Risk management

Finally, NEC contracts provide an excellent basis to encourage and support risk management through all stages of any project or service provision, which complements the Gold Standard recommendation that risk allocation is dealt with clearly and equitably.

I ask all NEC users to familiarise themselves with the 24 recommendations and seek the opportunity to convert their value objectives into agreed contracts, including those procured through frameworks. The result will be delivery of better, safer, faster, greener projects and programmes of work.


References

Constructing Excellence (2023) Constructing the Gold Standard Verification Scheme webpage, https://constructingexcellence.org.uk/ constructing-the-gold-standard-verification-scheme

HM Government (2022) The Construction Playbook: Government Guidance on Sourcing and Contracting Public Works Projects and Programmes, version 1.1. Cabinet Office, London, UK,  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-construction-playbook

Mosey D (2021) Constructing the Gold Standard − An Independent Review of Public Sector Construction Frameworks, Cabinet Office, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/an-independent-review-of-
public-sector-construction-frameworks

Welch J (2022) NEC users are vital to building ‘gold standard’ construction frameworks, NEC Users’ Group Newsletter 117 (March 2022): 1.

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