Report on BER Taskforce Forum held in Qld - 20th May 2011
On Friday, 20th May 2011 at the Brisbane Polo Club 60 ACA/CEFPI members assembled over lunch to hear Brad Orgill and David Chandler of the Australian Government BER Implementation Taskforce, talk about their findings to date as they prepare to deliver their final report to the Government in August 2011. With 20 years Investment Banking experience and an OAM for services to the Construction Industry respectively, Brad and David provided a fascinating and detailed account of findings having assessed around 3,500 of the 10,000 BER projects throughout the country. The outcomes of the study will provide Australia's 22 Primary and Secondary Education Authorities (State, Catholic and Independent) with data and qualitative information which should have significant implications for the way Education Facilities are procured into the future. While an interim version of the report has been available since December 2010 on www.bertaskforce.gov.au the following points were of particular interest to those present:
- The report uses various benchmarking methods for analysing the program including sqm rates which, while imprecise, are still valid. The Queensland Independent sector rate of $1,686/m2 (being the lowest of all of the State Authorities) compared very favourably with the much criticised NSW Government program's rate of $3,356/m2.
- The disparity of outcomes across the 22 Educational Authorities is partially explained by speed versus quality. A snapshot across the different procurement methods generally indicated that a cost premium was paid for speed of delivery. Further, this higher cost was not reflected in a high quality. Quality, time and cost were used to assess value for money in terms of fitness for purpose, quality of standards and scope matching expectation. One of the key "take outs" from the study was that quality fell significantly when there was no separation between the Superintendent and the Contractor i.e. better quality outcomes were achieved when a Superintendent who was independent of the Contractor was engaged.
- Where project managers were engaged in projects the range of performance was described as from "good to shameful" and the authors of the study bemoaned the diminution of the role of the Design Team in the "food chain". Managing Architects, where used, did a "great" job in the BER program and the task force's view is that the educational systems which worked best in the BER program used procurement systems that enabled school principals to be close to the decision making and design process.
Clearly the lunch was very informative and refreshing in its candour. It seems that the report, on its release, later this year will provide our sector with some clear guidance on the most effective use of funds for the delivery of future educational facilities.