Contractors will be judged on sustainability and diversity targets in procurement change-up

Build UK’s latest set of questions for contractor pre-qualification has been updated to include sustainability and diversity requirements.

The construction body released the latest edition of its Common Assessment Standard (CAS) yesterday.

Pre-qualification questionnaires are usually used by clients to assess the suitability of prospective bidders. They are specifially recommended for use by all public bodies. They can also be used by main contractors when letting subcontracts. The likes of Balfour Beatty, Mace, Skanska and Costain have all committed to using these questionnaires as part of their supply chain procurement.

Traditionally, the questionnaires have been used to determine whether a contractor has the capacity to fulfil work that it is bidding for. This typically includes questions relating to staff numbers and financial health.

The updated pre-qualification questionnaire also requires contractors to provide details of their cyber-security measures. The first edition of the CAS was published in 2019 and is reviewed annually. The latest edition is known as Version 3.

Build UK put the updated questionnaire together in collaboration with the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA).

ECA director of CSR Paul Reeve said: “These latest revisions to the Common Assessment Standard reflect important industry developments, such as the need for enhanced cyber-security, the drive towards greater sustainability and improving diversity in construction.

“Version 3 will provide contractors and clients with the essential PQ [pre-qualification] assurance they need from their supply chain, whilst ensuring it remains suitable and proportionate to small and micro suppliers,” he added.

CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said the CAS would “reduc[e] bureaucracy in both public and private-sector procurement”.

“Agreed industry standards will be beneficial for both clients and contractors, and will deliver beneficial outcomes for UK taxpayers, as the industry seeks to build back better in the months and years ahead,” he added.

Last year, the scheme was revamped to require suppliers to obtain just one pre-qualification certification before tendering for work. Previously, different clients needed different pre-qualifications, which Build UK estimated cost the industry up to £1bn.

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