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Government Facilities Management Strategy and its impact on FM procurement

The Government’s Facilities Management Strategy* is designed to establish standards to address the quality of service which should be aspired to in the procurement of FM contracts. What impact do you think this initiative will have on the procurement of FM services and is enough attention being paid to the use of procurement to deliver sustainable FM outcomes?


The Government’s Facilities Management Strategy is a significant step forward for the industry and the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) was delighted to be involved in its development.

Historically, there was always a criticism that there was a lack of consistency and coherence in how facilities management services had been procured and then delivered, with a cynicism that the key decision drivers were always cost and not what the quality of service should look like, which is perhaps given a much lower priority. Indeed, I remember several years ago attending a Crown Commercial Services (CCS) seminar where one of the attendees was recounting how her Government Department had previously very little input into the procurement exercise and were essentially told, “This is the FM contractor we have procured for you; now it’s over to you”. This detachment from the process clearly had led to a great deal of frustration and hostility before the contract had even begun.

For the new strategy to be anything more than just words, it has needed to ensure it is relevant and clear in the desired outcomes, particularly given “the UK Government directs almost 20 per cent (£13 billion) of the total market” for FM procurement spend. With this level of spending power, the hope is that such a strategy will not only have a major impact on public sector spending, but that good practice will also flow through to other elements of the FM marketplace.

One of the three key threads from the new strategy appears to be the need for greater flexibility in the delivery of the services. Surely one of the key learnings from the pandemic has been the crucial role facilities management plays in the workplace experience and how there was a need to be adaptable and innovative in developing new workplace strategies which continue to meet the changing needs of building users.

Secondly, there is an acceptance of the need for “one team” with less demarcation between client and service provider. I have seen countless examples of this working really well in the public sector. Thirdly, there is an obvious focus on sustainability given the Government’s net zero emissions by 2050 commitment. The Government clearly believes the facilities management profession has an important role in “improving air and water quality, tackling waste, increasing recycling, increasing biodiversity, and improving our natural environment”.

Given the stated ambition, the interesting next step will be to see how this works its way into procurement decisions; specifically, how tender questions, aligned to the new Strategy, will be framed and how weightings to the answers given will be apportioned in the overall decision-making. Once the award has been made and the contract begun, the strength of the new strategy will need to be evidenced in the outcomes across the Government estate.

From an IWFM perspective, I am heartened by the recognition that “FM professionals” need to be “equipped with effective skills and capabilities”, and IWFM will have a critical role to play in this for our members. 


I hope that this strategy ushers in a new era of collaboration between the public sector and FM providers, as buy in from both sides is needed to make it a success. From the public sector side, this can be primarily achieved by spending more time defining goals and how partnerships will work before putting a tender out to market. We see a lot of tenders that are essentially unchanged each renewal period.

A public sector portfolio can often be a sprawling one, with buildings in various conditions. We hope that the focus placed on this strategy will help invigorate the understanding over assets and the people that work across these sites to create more people-centric spaces, as well as offer room for innovation and flexibility over the course of a contract.

Inviting providers to submit written responses about how they will develop the partnership and adapt to challenges over the course of a contract would be hugely helpful. This would also require introducing more flexible pricing schedules and supporting notes / assumptions to explain the offering proposed and working with FMs on a commercial cost model that moves away from looking at m2 rates and towards one that can support growth and flexible portfolios. These contracts could share risk and reward so that both parties are equally invested in success.

These changes will allow FMs to bring to life all their expertise and capabilities and demonstrate the full range of value they can bring to a partnership. This includes expertise in workplace, energy management, health and wellbeing, technical maintenance, tech and data, and social value.

And of course, this also includes sustainability. I would encourage public sector teams to work with their internal colleagues and consultants to establish what good and excellent looks like in terms of sustainability goals before tendering.

As public sector portfolios are so diverse there needs to be an appreciation that a one size fits all approach will not suffice. For example, it may not be feasible to kit out all buildings with smart tech if some are rarely used, or simply not appropriate due to age or condition.

The sustainability strategy should also look for a provider that is an “enabler” – a partner that brings together multiple strands seamlessly to drive value and success. For example, at EMCOR UK we have specialist energy management and carbon teams that can lend their expertise across numerous contracts to share best practice and recommendations

Sustainability extends beyond the partnership through an FM provider’s supply chain. We have a supply chain sustainability dashboard to record our metrics, which drives supply chain improvements and benefits our end clients.

Whichever way you look at it, this new FM strategy has the potential to be a gamechanger in how our industry works with and supports the public sector.

About Sarah OBeirne

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