DIO has recently started awarding Next Generation Estate Contracts (NGEC) to industry. You may or may not have noticed this in the regional and trade media, but I thought this a timely opportunity to share our thinking on what comes next. You are less likely to have noticed our announcement about a Future Procurement Group (FPG) for DIO.
For some years now NGEC has been running as a major programme, developing a new suite of cost-effective prime contracts that will deliver repair and maintenance services to over 250 military establishments, 156,200 hectares of training estate and 49,000 military homes. It is also putting in place seven national and regional ‘capital works frameworks’ to provide construction work across the estate.
Needless to say the process of procuring these infrastructure services – during a period of wholesale change at all levels of government and Defence – has been complex. As government policy and the operating environment has evolved, so have the challenges. An early example was the fundamental act of recruiting a suitably-sized programme team with the right skills during a period of staff rationalisation.
But NGEC has also been a valuable learning process, which we believe aligns with Lord Levene's report in several ways. For example, it has created a team of experts with unprecedented experience and skills. This is why we have proposed an enduring FPG to retain and capitalise on this expertise and knowledge.
The FPG would provide a dedicated strategic function focused on forward-planning and contract development. As the NGEC arrangements come into service, DIO and our new strategic business partner will need to immediately start planning for what comes next, potentially in five years' time. The FPG would be central to that process, housing a centre of excellence for infrastructure procurement.
Throughout the lifespan of the NGEC current contracts, at least five years , the FPG would enable DIO to undertake proactive planning and collaborative working with industry and wider government, market-testing ideas and ensuring that future contracts are sufficiently agile to meet future Defence frontline requirements.