Monday 20 August 2012

Procurement errors lead to school expansion delays

Modular building from Elliott's website
As Brent Council Executive is set to discuss further school expansions this evening, it has become clear that current expansions at Mitchell Brook, Fryent and Barham primary schools will not be completed by the forecast date.

The delay appears to have been caused by problems in the preparation of the original bid documents according to the report by Richard Barrett, Assistant Director of  Regeneration and Major Projects, that recommends Andy Donald, awards the contract.  Normally contracts of this value require approval by the Executive but they delegated this authority to Andy Donald, Director of Regeneration and Major Projects at their April 2012 meeting.
On receipt of bids and initial evaluation, it was determined that there were some areas of ambiguity in the Council’s bid documents which had led the different bidders to interpret the Council’s requirements in different ways. As a result, the decision was taken to retender the pricing element only to ensure that all the prices were submitted for exactly the same requirements. Unfortunately when these further tenders were received and clarified, all of the bids were unsuitable, either because of being too high or because or qualifications to the requirement to accept the Council’s contractual terms. This led to a further process of further process of clarifying contractual terms around design risk and giving the opportunity to reprice.
The contract will be awarded to Elliott Group Ltd  with a value of £3.1m for Barham Primary, £4.4m for Fryent Primary and £2.7m for Mitchell Brook Primary. All with a start date of August 22nd.  Because of the time constraints it was decided to use a modular steel framed building system for all three schools which themselves vary greatly in their architecture. 

Barrett argues that despite the delay the timings will still allow for pupils to start in September 2013. However this assumes that all goes according to plan, which has not always been the case with the expansion programme.  Even a July 2013 completion date is challenging for schools in terms of setting up new classrooms with the potential for that work having to be carried out during the summer holiday.

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