Last edited 20 Mar 2015

Construction Task Force

In 1997, following the highly critical 1994 Latham Report 'Constructing the Team', the then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott set up the Construction Task Force to drive forward modernisation of the construction industry.

The Construction Task Force was chaired by Sir John Egan Chief Executive of BAA plc, and its membership included:

  • Mike Raycraft, Property Services Director, Tesco Stores Ltd.
  • Ian Gibson, Managing Director, Nissan UK Ltd.
  • Sir Brian Moffatt, Chief Executive, British Steel plc.
  • Alan Parker, Managing Director, Whitbread Hotels.
  • Anthony Mayer, Chief Executive, Housing Corporation.
  • Sir Nigel Mobbs, Chairman, Slough Estates and Chief Executive, Bovis Homes.
  • Professor Daniel Jones, Director of the Lean Enterprise Centre, Cardiff Business School.
  • David Gye, Director, Morgan Stanley & Co Ltd.
  • David Warburton, GMB Union.

The remit and composition of the Construction Task Force was not universally welcomed. It was criticised for overly representing clients, and for the background of Egan in motor manufacturing, with the implication that construction could learn from production line processes. Egan said, ‘…we are not inviting uk construction to look at what it does already and do it better; we are asking the industry and Government to join with major clients to do it entirely differently’.

Tarmac boss and chairman of the Major Contractors Group Sir Neville Simms said, 'We will not continue to be taken for mugs… We are not as inefficient as they think’, and Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) said, 'It will have more chance of success if it does not appear to be a slap in the face for the industry.'

Following a visit to a car manufacturing plant, CIC deputy chairman Robin Nicholson said, ‘There was less agreement among the construction industry representatives present about how this potential is to be realised - if in fact it ever can be', and Watts agreed, 'If Egan says construction must become more like manufacturing then it is not going to work.'

However, the industry accepted the idea that the client representatives might establish demonstration projects and Watts later conceded that 'People are reassured that nothing unachievable will be proposed,'

Ref, NCE 14 May 1998

In 1998, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) published the Construction Task Force report, ‘Rethinking Construction, The report of the Construction Task Force to the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, on the scope for improving the quality and efficiency of UK construction’ (the Egan Report).

The report set very ambitious targets, including annual reductions of 10% in construction cost and construction time and a reduction in defects of 20% per year and proposed adopting:

  • Integrated project processes.
  • Decent and safe working conditions.
  • Improved management and supervisory skills.
  • Replacing competitive tendering with long term relationships.
  • That leading public sector bodies should become best practice clients.

In 2002, Rethinking Construction 2002: Achievements, Next Steps, Getting Involved was prepared by the Rethinking Construction Group Ltd, chaired by Alan Crane. The report said ‘...it is quite incredible to see how much progress we have already made in implementing the recommendations for radical change set out in Sir John Egan’s “Rethinking Construction”.

However, in May 2008, ten years after publication of Rethinking Construction, Sir John Egan said, ‘we have to say we’ve got pretty patchy results. And certainly nowhere near the improvement we could have achieved, or that I expected to achieve…..I guess if I were giving marks out of 10 after 10 years I’d probably only give the industry about four out of 10’ ref Egan: I’d give construction about 4 of 10.

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