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Resetting the Relationship for Better Infrastructure

written by Chris Webster May 13, 2020

Governments and Industry Need to Move from Confrontation to Collaboration

When it comes to building infrastructure, government and industry have an often fractious relationship. There is a growing recognition around the world that years of selecting winning bids based largely on lowest price meeting minimum criteria is not working. The challenges facing the sector cannot be solved by government or industry alone, a joint approach and shared vision is needed.

That shared vision from government and industry leaders can help drive the necessary culture shift that will see benefits through increased collaboration, more innovation, and ultimately deliver better value and a better experience for the people using the infrastructure. Below are examples of how governments and industry are coming together to set out how they plan to transform how infrastructure is delivered:

Construction Accord: New Zealand – In 2019 the New Zealand Government, public agencies, and industry leaders signed an accord to work together towards a safer, more productive, innovative industry. It provides a platform to improve performance with government commitments on procurement, and project pipelines. More leadership and alignment from industry, and shared goals on workforce development, risk management, and health and safety. The group established has acted as a sounding board to help drive progress and was quickly re-engaged to help come up with ideas for recovery an stimulus efforts around COVID.

Construction 2025: United Kingdom – Introduced in 2013, this industrial strategy provides a shared vision for where the sector should be in 2025 with a focus on innovation, talent, and sustainability. The goal was to work together to reduce costs by one third and halve delivery time and emissions, and provide a major export opportunity. The vision outlined ten shared core commitments and was jointly signed by industry and government in areas like technology use, recruitment, procurement efficiency, enhancing supply chains, and maintaining an ongoing dialogue.

10 Point Commitment: New South Wales, Australia – The NSW Government Construction Leadership Group was made up of all the key agencies engaged in the delivery of infrastructure. In 2018 it released the Ten Point Commitment to the Construction Sector Action Plan which focuses on the need to work together with the private sector to drive quality, innovation, and cost effectiveness.

Rijkswaterstaat Objectives: Netherlands – Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) set out five organizational objectives to position innovation in their delivery and management of infrastructure projects. These objectives helped to empower staff to look to innovate and improve, and work more collaboratively with the private sector. The goal was that each innovative project should reduce lifecycle costs by 30 percent, increase functionality by 30 percent and increase safety and sustainability by 30 percent.

Construction Productivity Roadmap: Singapore – The first version was launched in 2010 and set a target of annual productivity gains of 2-3 percent. Version two was released in 2015 and focused on skills, capital investment in new techniques, and integration of the supply chain. This approach was built around funding for training and adoption of technology, and requirements for the use of modular construction on parcels of government land.

Project 13: Institution of Civil Engineers – This industry-led initiative seeks to transform how projects are delivered away from a pure transaction to a relationships-based enterprise approach. It is based around five principles of developing capable owners, effective governance, a designated integrator, effective organization, and digital transformation. It was selected as a flagship initiative for 2020 by the World Economic Forum.

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