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Boyd, D (2011) An evaluation of a system change in the purchasing of construction materials by local authorities. In: Egbu, C and Lou, E C W (Eds.), Proceedings 27th Annual ARCOM Conference, 5-7 September 2011, Bristol, UK. Association of Researchers in Construction Management, 695–704.

  • Type: Conference Proceedings
  • Keywords: aggregation; collaborative procurement; public sector; supply chain
  • ISBN/ISSN: 978-0-9552390-5-2
  • URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/ar2011-0695-0704_Boyd.pdf
  • Abstract:
    Local authorities are major clients of the construction industry for new build, refurbishment and maintenance. Although, the quantity of public sector work is much less than it was 40 years ago, it still directly amounts to ~40% of all construction. The traditional way that Local Authorities (LAs) purchase materials for this work is through their contractors for each project. With such a significant purchase value, it has been suggested that LAs should collaborate and aggregate their purchasing so as to achieve reduced costs and better availability of materials for their projects. The current financial crisis makes such a move more attractive and more important. This paper undertakes an analysis of such a change to understand what is required for it to be viable and what might be the barriers to overcome. The work is based on a small number of interviews with LA officers, construction contractors working for LAs, and specialist procurement staff. The way that material specification and supply fits into the system of construction is complex and this is presented in a business process format. It was found that most participants do not have an understanding of how material procurement interacts with the construction process and indeed, as it is so complex, many do not want to face any changes. There is little actual information of what quantities of each type of material are used. Contingent issues such as LAs desire to support businesses in their political area, make for an unclear set of objectives for the system. Thus to benefit from such proposals, then changes are required throughout the system. Such a comprehensive change could not be instigated without considerable authority demanding the change with proscribed procedures and sanctions. However, other changes in procurement, design and construction that may come from the use of, for example BIM, might determine this strategic move and realisation of cost savings.