Results from a pilot analytical framework to assess private financing and traditional procurement models has highlighted that more is required from the public sector to understand the pros and cons of different procurement options and improve project data management.
The framework has been launched by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) and was tested in partnership with Highways England; this tool provides “comprehensive” analysis of the whole-life performance of the various procurement models.
Its aim is to ensure that the government’s selection of infrastructure procurement models is made with “robust consideration of broader factors beyond cost.”
It comes because current procurement of infrastructure projects run the risk of being constrained due to a lack of evidence surrounding long-term investment outcomes.
In turn, with the government’s target of becoming net-zero in terms of carbon emissions by 2050, this lack of evidence could have significant strategic implications for the UK’s ability not only to meet this target, but also the demand for infrastructure services.
Because of the lack of evidence on infrastructure procurements, the focus has been on a single measure of performance, which is usually short-run cost.
But this means that future decisions risk being made on just opinion and judgement, meaning lessons are not learned for future procurement practices.
The framework shows that more must be done by the public sector to understand advantages and disadvantages of different procurement models.
Best practice principles are set out by the framework to assess procurement models; it proposes a more balanced understanding of the performance of private financing and traditional procurement.
Sir John Armitt, commented: “Transforming the nation’s infrastructure means mobilising private sector investment alongside that of government.
“It’s imperative we develop the tools to make better decisions about what works and what doesn’t and address existing concerns about the use of private finance.
“That requires an honest conversation about the role it plays in supporting our infrastructure investment and the partnership models we need.
“This framework encourages the public sector to view data differently and ask the right questions to get the best taxpayer deal, whatever the procurement model.”