UK central government fails to increase spending with SMEs

r_seaman@hotmail.comThe Cabinet Office has published figures for how much the UK’s central government departments spent on products and services from small and medium enterprises during the year 2011/2012. The low key announcement slipped under the radar for many people, possibly because the figures indicate that the government is very unlikely to hit its target of spending a quarter of its total expenditure with SMEs in the course of this parliament. While it’s inevitable that large areas of government spending are unsuitable for supply from smaller businesses, the Cabinet Office will be concerned that the current total of 10 per cent is way short of its expectations.

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Widespread adoption of BIM moves closer

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The widespread adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in architecture, design and construction has moved closer with the publication by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) yesterday of the BIM Protocol, a legal framework for BIM projects. The use of BIM as a collaborative way of working that utilises digital technologies for more efficient methods of designing, creating and maintaining properties has been described as a game-changing ICT and cultural process for the built environment, with the Government’s intention to require collaborative 3D BIM on all its projects by 2016

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UK centralised public sector purchasing – still work to do

Whitehall,_LondonThe National Audit Office today publishes its report  Improving Government Procurement. The mainstream media will doubtless stay focussed on the headline examples of ‘waste’, especially in high-spending and high-profile departments such as the MOD and NHS. But for the public sector and its suppliers there is more to be concerned about in one of the main conclusions of the report; that less than half of public sector spending in the UK is carried out across departments to take advantage of economies of scale. That this is the case has long been a source of frustration for those suppliers signed up to framework agreements who find that things aren’t as clear cut as they believe when it comes to purchasing decisions.

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Updated: nearly all London boroughs seek exemption from office conversion plan

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Earlier, we reported that London’s Mayor Boris Johnson openly believes that London’s key business districts should be exempt from proposals to allow offices to be turned into homes without planning permission. Now a report emerges from CBRE that all but a handful of London’s boroughs are to seek to make themselves exempt from the rules.  According to the research, only Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Croydon and Kingston are unlikely to seek an exemption. Four other boroughs are discussing plans with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the remaining 25 are set to apply to make themselves exempt.

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US Federal government confirms green-building requirements

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A new study prepared for the United States Department of Defense (DoD) by the National Research Council has given the seal of approval on the importance of green-building certification programs as tools to reduce energy use and other operational costs. “This reaffirmed what we’ve been saying all along – that LEED makes good economic sense,” said Fleming Roberts, Associate, Policy & Advocacy at the US Building Council. “The report recommended that the Department of Defense should require its new buildings or major renovations to be designed to achieve at least LEED Silver certification.” More →

Room for improvement in public sector workplace management

Portcullis HouseLast week technology company Citrix announced that the UK Government could cut its property costs by a third by adopting flexible working policies. It used a Freedom of Information request to discover how much space each public sector employee in the UK is allocated and how much it costs then applied a formula to work out how this would be affected by greater adoption of flexible working. What was interesting was not just the up-front argument you would expect from an ICT provider but also the discovery that the average employee is allocated 1.1 workstations with some enjoying 1.6. More →

UK government to ban tax cheats from winning public sector work

white-hall-placeThe UK Treasury yesterday announced new rules that would mean that it can ban firms who avoid tax illegally from winning public sector contracts. The new system will come into force as early as April 1 of this year, leaving little time for consultation and are outlined in draft guidance published for consultation by the Government. It will require potential suppliers to notify contracting departments of their recent tax compliance history and to tell the department if any tax return has recently been found to be incorrect and if they have been convicted for tax related offences or subject to a penalty for civil fraud or evasion. Departments will be able to disqualify any bidder meeting these criteria from the procurement process.

Leading architect appointed to new Obama administration

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Leading architect and designer Michael Graves has joined President Obama’s new administration. Graves, who is a wheelchair user, has been appointed to the United States’ Access Board, an independent Federal agency that provides leadership in accessible design. He said: “I am honoured to have been appointed to the United States Access Board by President Obama. When I became paralyzed, I realized that as an architect and designer, and then a patient, I had a unique perspective. As a result, I became passionate about using this perspective to improve healthcare and accessibility through design projects.” More →

Consolidation of state properties boosts London economy by £3.5bn

Whitehall,_LondonAccording to a new report from property consultancy Knight Frank into the impact of the Government’s policy of consolidating and improving the management of the public sector estate in London, the economy has been boosted by as much as £3.5 billion. The study has reviewed the results of the work carried out by the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group at 16 properties in central London including the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for International Development, the Land Registry and the Crown Prosecution Service. Many of these sites were seen as dated and have now been redeveloped for use by other organisations. More →

Employee engagement proven to help retain staff

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The more engaged an employee the less likely they are to be looking for a new job, personnel experts have confirmed. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) quarterly Employee Outlook survey, of the 38 per cent of employees who say they feel engaged, just 7 per cent are looking for a new job, compared with a survey average of 20 per cent. But in a record low for the survey just 35 per cent of employees report feeling engaged, with just 29 per cent of public sector staff actively engaged, 37 per cent in the private sector and 41 per cent in the voluntary sector. More →

Commercial sector bucks downward UK construction trend

Construction figsConstruction business activity fell by the third month running in January, with new orders at slowest pace since October 2012 according to the latest Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). There were some reports that snowfall had contributed to reduced output volumes, but the majority of respondents cited weak underlying client demand and a lack of new projects.  However commercial activity was the only sub-sector to buck the wider downward trend in output during January with the latest data indicating unchanged volumes of commercial activity, ending five months of contraction. More →

£4 billion UK Government spend to be managed by Research Councils

cheque_bookAround £4 billion of the UK Government’s spending on construction and facilities management projects is to be handled by The Research Council’s UK Shared Services Centre (RCUK SSC). The move has been agreed with the Government Procurement Service (GPS) as part of the coalition’s attempts to achieve cost savings in every part of the public sector. GPS projects that the move will save around 10 per cent of the budgeted spend by consolidating procurement procedures, although shared procurement services have sometimes failed to deliver anticipated saving in the past. More →

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