Common minimum standards
Government Construction: Common Minimum Standards for procurement of the built environments in the public sector, is generally referred to as the Common Minimum Standards (CMS), although the Government Construction Strategy proposes that it should be renamed the Government Construction Standards. The CMS can be downloaded in full from the gov.uk website.
The CMS summarises existing government policy on construction. It states that central government construction projects (including departments, executive agencies and the non-departmental public bodies for which they are responsible) should be carried out '…with full reference to the CMS'. Where public projects have been devolved to the wider public sector, reasonable measures should be taken to ensure that the CMS are adopted.
The CMS is quite short at just 17 pages. It includes guidance on:
- General standards.
- Project and programme procurement.
- Health and safety.
- Historic estate.
Before the CMS was published, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) produced a great deal of guidance about best practice in procurement and project management. OGC has now been absorbed into the Cabinet Office, and OGC guidance has been archived, however much of the guidance in the CMS mirrors the procedures set out in the OGC Gateway Review Process, and OGC guidance is referenced in the CMS.
- Requiring that projects undertake OGC Gateway Review risk profile assessments and the OGC Gateway Review process (or similar approved process).
- Requiring collaboration and the early appointment of an integrated supply team.
- Proposing that contract routes other than PPP (public private partnership) / PFI (private finance initiative), design & build, prime contracting and framework arrangements …should not be used unless it can be clearly shown that they offer best value for money.
- Proposing the use of the PAS 91 (Publicly Available Specification) standard pre-qualification questionnaire.
- Proposing the development of an output-based specification.
The CMS also includes references to:
- The principles set out in the Government Construction Strategy.
- Fair payment practices.
- The Green Book (the government framework for the appraisal and evaluation of policies, programmes and projects).
- A requirement to collect and analyse health & safety data.
- A requirement for contractors to be registered with a good neighbour scheme.
- A requirement to assess buildability, functionality, maintainability, sustainability and future flexibility when assessing designs.
- A requirement to comply with the Protocol for the Care of the Government Historic Estate.
- A requirement to follow the procedures set out in Achieving Excellence in Construction Procurement Guide 11: Sustainability.
- A requirement to take account of the Government Buying Standard for construction. This requires the adoption of an environmental assessment process. Where BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is used, new projects should achieve an ‘excellent’ rating, and refurbishment projects with a value over £500k should achieve at least a ‘very good’ rating.
- A requirement to procure timber in accordance with the governement’s timber procurement policy.
- A requirement to fall within the upper quartile of energy performance for that building type.
- A requirement to take account of resilience to climate change.
The CMS is updated regularly and includes details of progress made in key areas.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Government Construction Strategy.
- OGC Gateway Review process.
- Major Projects Authority.
- Public project: outline work plan.
- Public procurement.
- The Green Book.
 External references
Featured articles and news
Have a look at our article explaining the different types of construction contractor.
Futurist Thomas Frey explores the concept of Disposable Housing - could it be a reality sooner than we imagine?
ICE to host new exhibition offering a window onto the civil engineering achievements beneath our feet.
Do you know all the various types of defects in brickwork?
US museum reveals plans for an installation made entirely of paper tubes.
Review of a book looking at how contemporary architecture found its expression within neoliberal capitalism.
The Great Mosque of Djenne, the largest mud-brick building in the world.
Amanda Clack, RICS President offers recommendations to government on Brexit and the construction skills shortage.
Tired of the commute? This architecture firm believes the best solution is to take cars underground.
Why do so many women leave engineering? Probably not for the reason you’re thinking.
For over 30 years David Trench was one of the UK's leading project managers. Read about his career through some of his most famous projects.
Leading institutes join forces calling for property flood resilience measures to help householders avoid repeat flooding.