For handback to be a success, public sector clients and PFI companies need to work together to address legacy performance issues and agree a plan and standards. We’ve seen this first-hand in our role as technical advisor to the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) on their PFI Contract Management Programme, as well as our ongoing PFI expiry work with National Highways. Our experience tells us that preparation and collaboration ensure the best possible outcome, not just for the two parties involved but for society as a whole – whether for our schools, our hospitals or our highways.
When should the process start?
The approach to the expiry timeline is important, and here the message is simple: the start as early as possible – seven to ten years before expiry. This may seem like a long timeline, but when dealing with social infrastructure – much of which operates 24/7 – access opportunities for carrying out physical works are often limited and so it’s essential to start plan well ahead.
As early as possible, the public sector client – and the PFI company – should ensure that they fully understand the contractual obligations and prepare for the steps needed as they move towards contract expiry. These include establishing the quality and completeness of baseline asset data and asset performance through condition surveys, determining and agreeing works required by the PFI company, and planning a handover programme for assets, systems, data and people. Even projects more than ten years away from expiry can start now by ensuring contractual obligations are being met ahead of any handback discussions.