Details of school procurement revealed

Soft facilities management reconsidered; Scottish equity model looked at; detail on OJEU

Partnerships for Schools (PfS) commercial director Paul Milner has told a Partnerships Bulletin conference what the Priority School Building Programme contracts will look like.

Speaking at the UK Partnerships Forum 2011, Milner said soft facilities management services could be removed from the PFI contract because they have tended to generate “a good deal of tension” in the past.

Meanwhile, the agency is also looking at making changes to equity returns, and Milner said the outcome could look similar to what the Scottish Futures Trust has developed in its non-profit distributing model.

He added that PfS is also looking at accessing short-term debt, where the public sector could take the refinancing risk.

For contractors, Milner said the pre-qualification questionnaire may require references to operational projects.

“The OJEU will be published in the second quarter of next year. There will be five lots covering all batches. We will use competitive dialogue, but it will be targeted, so certain elements will not be open to consultation.

“Contractors will be encouraged to use their own standardised designs across a batch,” he continued. “We are currently developing a standard output specification.”

Milner said the agency is exploring a number of different ways to carry out the operational management of the contracts, acknowledging that while they will need local input, it may be possible for the Education Funding Agency to manage the deals through its 10 regional offices.

However, he warned that no final decisions on any of these proposals had yet been approved by ministers.

Milner added that the outcomes of the Treasury’s review into PFI will be taken into account in future schemes.

“In the changes we are making, we have already tackled a lot of these issues,” he said.