The welcome certainty of the Christmas Eve trade deal heralded a renewed interest in the Construction Playbook published earlier in December 2020.

That document sets out 14 key policies which pledge to drive "better, faster greener delivery" in respect of the assessment, procurement and delivery of public works.

Adherence to these policies is envisaged on a "comply or explain" basis for all central government departments and their arm's length bodies. There is also an expectation for sub-contracting authorities under the PCR 2015 to adopt these policies.

The 14 policies are produced in summary below:

  1. Publishing pipelines of government contracts to aid suppliers' understanding of demands and opportunities.
  2. Regular and early assessment of the health and capability of the market with a view to encouraging innovation and potential entrants to market.
  3. Utilising longer-term plans and contracting without stifling innovation or competition.
  4. Standardising components through industry collaboration to facilitate delivery of digital and offsite manufacturing technologies.
  5. Standardise the management, security and exchange of project data by using  Building Information Management (BIM).
  6. Engage supply chains early to promote outcome-based designs and avoid downstream issues.
  7. Prioritise specification over scope to promote innovation.
  8. Benchmarking against previous projects to promote data-driven decision making and better ascertainment of life-cycle costing.
  9. Allow an evidence- based process to govern the choice of delivery structure.
  10. Promote collaboration and risk management (including data exchange and value improvement) in contracts by setting clear aims.
  11. Enhancing perception of Government as a client through market engagement and risk allocation.
  12. Promote risk/reward through contractual incentive payment mechanisms. Also ensuring that price correctly reflects risk.
  13. Greater consideration of insolvency when selecting a supplier. 
  14. Requiring "resolution planning information" for critical works contracts, to alleviate risk of supplier insolvency.  

Only time will tell how enthusiastically the ambitious Playbook policies are adopted but in the short term, it appears to be mostly business as usual for UK firms involved in public projects. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.