The influential House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has today thrown its weight behind the RIBA's proposals that design issues should be considered at the early stages of PFI projects.
The Committee, whose report on the collapse of the Paddington Health Campus scheme was published today, found that the scheme was based on an inadequate outline business case, constructed without the benefit of input from doctors and nurses as to the required clinical content. The report's first recommendation states that "incomplete or inadequate business cases should not be approved until all material issues, including sufficient design work, have been addressed."
RIBA President Jack Pringle gave oral evidence to the Committee on 5 June 2006, when he outlined the institute's Smart PFI policy and explained how many of the problems which beset the Paddington scheme could have been avoided through earler consideration of design issues. Speaking today, Jack Pringle said:
"I am pleased to see that the Public Accounts Committee has supported the RIBA view on the role of design in the PFI process. We have been delighted with the response our Smart PFI proposals have already received from the Treasury and OGC. This report now sends out a clear message to Government spending departments and commissioning bodies that PFI schemes should not go ahead unless design is fully considered from the very start."
Richard Bacon MP, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, added:
"Design needs to be much higher on the agenda in the early stages of PFI projects. Testing a design brief early on will go a long way to ensuring a better outcome before a single brick is laid. I hope the Government will listen to the RIBA's advice before millions of pounds more in taxpayers' money is squandered."