Standards group targets interpretation

9 July 2012 The high cost of programmes in the UK has been blamed on clients' interpretation of British, European and international infrastructure standards.
A report from the Industry Standards Group, published in response to the government’s infrastructure cost review, suggested there is significant inefficiency caused by differing interpretations of standards.

In one example cited by the report, an asphalt producer is required to produce 270 different asphalt mixes to meet the different clients’ interpretations of the standards.

Chaired by Arup’s Terry Hill, the group has already seen evidence of a change in culture from some public sector clients to reduce their portfolio of standards, thereby cutting the costs that they incur when procuring infrastructure.

The report recommended four developments that can help improve efficiency and cut waste, including defining outcomes instead of inputs, and an increased focus on developing standardised products and assets.

It also calls on public sector clients to “empower their supply chains” by ensuring requirements are clear and can promote innovation.

Finally, clients are encouraged to measure the benefits of streamlining their standards to help monitor improvements and build on successes.

“The evidence suggests that client requirements can be simplified with no loss of quality, safety of operational effectiveness,” said Hill. “We believe that through following the recommendations of this report, infrastructure clients can generate significant gains in delivery efficiency.”

This page was last updated on:
1 March 2015.

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