Alex Lubbock, head of digital construction at the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, discusses Transforming Infrastructure Performance, the government’s plan to tackle the issues that limit the performance of UK infrastructure by improving productivity in the way we plan, design, build and operate assets
Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP) is the government’s plan to increase the effectiveness of investment in UK infrastructure – both economic infrastructure such as transport and energy networks, and social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals – by improving productivity in the way we plan, design, build and operate assets. It is a substantial change programme with a 10-year horizon that builds on existing best practice and tackles the systemic issues that still limit the performance of UK infrastructure, and it is an important part of the government’s plan to implement the Industrial Strategy.
TIP is led by the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, which operates at the centre of government, reporting to the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury on all matters relating to better project delivery across government. Our vision is to establish the UK government as having the best project ‘system’ in the globe.
TIP was one of a number of policy documents and strategies produced in the autumn of 2017, including a Budget announcement of a move to a presumption in favour of offsite construction by 2019. This, alongside the Industrial Strategy and the Challenge Fund for Transforming Construction, is primed to galvanise the industry. The Construction Leadership Council has set out its ambitions around skills, procurement, digital, manufacturing and whole-life performance, all of which play a key role in making the strategy and policy have transformation impact.
The UK government’s investment alone has a projected pipeline of infrastructure and construction projects totalling £600bn over the next 10 years. This should give the market confidence to invest in the necessary skills and technology required.
If we are going to invest circa £60bn per annum over the next 10 years then we must achieve greater whole-life performance and outcomes for that investment. About £150bn of that projected pipeline will be digitally enabled through BIM alone, so what else could we transform as a result?
It continues to be challenging for established organisations like government departments to change structure and culture to adopt technology at scale and sustainably. However, with the right vision and leadership, it is fast becoming mission critical for all.
Within the Smarter Infrastructure pillar of TIP, so far we have supported the Treasury response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s Data for the Public Good report by supporting the establishment of the Digital Framework Task Group in conjunction with the Centre for Digital Built Britain.
We have established a cross-Whitehall working group for Modern Methods of Construction and support the programme board for the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for Clean Growth, which includes Transforming Construction. We are taking early steps on identifying the right commercial conditions for digital and manufacturing of construction while continuing to bring other stakeholders to government together around this agenda to create the resilience in our pipeline and approach.
For technology and manufacturing of construction to be a big enabler of productivity and growth in the sector, the ambition and application of that technology needs to be met with leadership, a commercial strategy that supports it but, most importantly, a culture that can foster the skills and innovative opportunities that technology presents.
Head of Digital Construction
Infrastructure & Projects Authority