A recent industry engagement roundtable took place at the end of November at the Construction Employers Federation offices in Belfast.

Industry engagement roundtable at the  Construction Employers Federation offices in Belfast
Industry engagement roundtable at the Construction Employers Federation offices in Belfast

Representatives from Government including the departments of FinanceEconomyEducationHealth and Infrastructure attended, as well as NI Water and Translink. Industry representatives including the FMB’s Northern Ireland Director Gavin McGuire presented on the current challenges of no Executive in place and how Industry has looked to adapt to a challenging market.

Improving the procurement process for SME builders

The morning session focused on our calls to assist members. The procurement process does need to be more inclusive if it’s to assist more SME contractors to get involved.

Recent feedback from FMB members and the wider industry included some key points which were noted by senior civil servants. There is a need for:

  1. More regular supplier forums and dialogue
  2. Less bureaucracy and improved tender documentation
  3. More focus on quality and not a race to the bottom on price
  4. Standardising pre-qualification processes and scoring across governmental departments
  5. Allowing for more market / cost volatility across contract terms
  6. Establishing if the current E-tenders system fit for purpose
  7. Finding out how the procurement act coming in October 2024 will affect the local industry

What’s next?

This construction industry engagement session will now be the first of a series of quarterly meetings with the key stakeholders as we try to get some actions. The next meeting in February will pick up again on the key themes discussed previously.

We welcome members’ feedback on how you are affected by any of the issues around public procurement, and you can contact us with any comments at [email protected].