Common pre-qualification standard 'to cut duplication'

A new industry-wide system is ‘set to transform’ the pre-qualification (PQ) process within the construction industry, its backers have said.

The Common Assessment Standard - an industry-agreed process with desktop and site-based levels of certification - is now fully up and running.

Companies can apply to any Recognised Assessment Body to get the appropriate level dependent upon their trade, size and requirements of their clients.

Major contractors and clients – including Balfour Beatty, Costain, HS2, Mace, Multiplex and Skanska – have all adopted the standard, which means members of their supply chains will need to obtain just one certification to tender for work with them.

This follows the recent implementation of a new data sharing solution, which enables contractors and clients to obtain key PQ data from any one of three recognised assessment bodies: Achilles, CHAS or Constructionline.

The Common Assessment Standard was created by industry body Build UK with the support of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association and is endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which is actively seeking its adoption throughout government construction procurement, including the Construction Playbook.

Build UK said the new process simplifies a complex system and that its roll-out will significantly reduce the duplication of time, effort and resources that is costing the sector up to £1bn a year.

Build UK deputy chief executive Jo Fautley said: ‘It’s been a collaborative effort, involving companies across the whole sector, and the new system is a huge step towards more efficient working, which is more important than ever in the current challenging economic climate.’

Neil Mant, chair of the nterim cross industry body, which oversaw the development of the new system, said: ‘The new PQ system is a huge step forward for construction. With a single Common Assessment Standard and data sharing now in place, we have not only eliminated a huge amount of costly duplication of effort but also raised the bar in assessing the competence of the supply chain.

‘Supply chain companies will need certification from only one of the three Recognised Assessment Bodies, and contractors can continue to deal with the body they have an existing relationship with.’

Andy Mitchell, chair of the CLC, said: ‘The CLC is delighted to endorse the Common Assessment Standard which is set to transform the construction PQ process. It is a real and practical way of reducing bureaucracy and improving quality in the industry and it comes at just the right time.

‘Companies will be able to demonstrate that they meet an agreed industry standard, and clients and contractors will be able to rely on the certification.’

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