Last year was a particularly good one for NEC, with publication of the new NEC4 suite, launch of NEC4 Design Build and Operate Contract and consultative NEC4 Alliance Contract, and continuing growth worldwide.
I witnessed all this at first hand in September at the largest-ever NEC Asia-Pacific Users’ Group conference, where there was some good discussion about transition from an NEC3 partnering ethos to collaboration under NEC4 – something I believe has the potential to transform the way construction projects are delivered globally.
Most government policy is delivered through projects of one form or another so it is vital these projects are delivered efficiently and effectively. I am therefore pleased to confirm that the Government Construction Board, which I also chair, has recommended NEC4 contracts should be used wherever appropriate.
Standardising on the use of the comprehensive NEC4 suite of contracts should help to deliver efficiencies across the UK public sector. It should also promote behaviours in line with the principles of the Government Construction Strategy, which sets out plans to increase productivity and get better quality and value for money on all construction projects.
Transforming the construction sector
The Government’s latest Budget and its Industrial Strategy, both announced in November, have a number of references to construction – including new policies to improve productivity, particularly in housebuilding. The Industrial Strategy also sets out a Construction Sector Deal, which is designed to foster transformative collaboration with the sector supported by up to £170 million of investment.
A key area is procuring for value, ensuring construction projects across the public and private sectors are procured and built based on their whole-life value. The sector is now developing a procurement standard and working with the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), of which I am Construction Director, to develop cost and performance benchmarks for assets and contractors and monitor outcomes.
By the time you read this you will have seen further announcements about how IPA is helping to take the work forward, such as a new presumption in favour of offsite construction across suitable capital programmes where it represents best value for money. It is the beginning of an exciting transformation of the construction sector.
Celebrating best practice
One way we can help drive transformative change is by celebrating and rewarding some of the very best examples of efficient construction which deliver value for money and innovation. As such it was good to see NEC-procured projects again dominating the British Construction Industry (BCI) Awards last year (see Issue 88) and I look forward to presenting the 2018 NEC Awards at the annual seminar this summer.
Most projects which have won or been shortlisted for BCI or NEC awards in recent years now feature as case studies on the NEC website at and in this newsletter (see pages 4-6) – they are all worth reading as they serve as an inspiration to us all.
Looking forward, there are of course some issues the industry needs to address – not least in getting more women and people with disabilities involved. My hope is that in the coming year progress will be made as we continue to drive more efficient and effective delivery of projects supported by NEC.
Finally, I would like to conclude my first editorial as chair of the NEC Users’ Group by wishing all NEC users the best in 2018. I look forward to meeting many of you during the year.