Suppliers and sub contractors throughout the construction supply chain have, for a long time, had to complete a vast number of different PQQ forms from an ever increasing number of different bodies, for instance:

  • Achilles
  • CHAS
  • Construction Line
  • Exor
  • Safe contractor
  • SIPP
  • And many others

It has long been suggested that this leads to considerable unnecessary and duplicated effort which costs time and money:

  • Buyers, and their assessment providers, have to read and evaluate the responses
  • Suppliers have to complete a number of similar, but subtly different, PQQs.

This approach is clearly hugely inefficient for all of the parties involved, the unnecessary bureaucracy diverting both buyers’ and suppliers’ resources and attention away from proportionate and effective risk management.

PAS 91 has been developed in order to, hopefully, simplify this plethora of pre-qualification questionnaire schemes currently available.

The cost to construction

Some of the key bodies in the construction sector have attempted to quantify the cost of this bureaucracy.

The Specialist Engineering Contractors (SEC) Group surveyed member from a range of sectors – plumbing and heating, electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and lifts – and found that most companies belonged to an average of 2.3 schemes in a year but, for some, this increased to up to 20 schemes. The level of subscriptions varied between under £200 up to many thousand pounds, the average being £1,500. Consequently, they concluded that “just” the subscriptions for their members were of the order of £10 million. The costs associated with the administrative burden averaged £4,000 per company. Consequently, they estimated the total expenditure to be in the region of £28 million for the whole membership.

In a similar exercise, the National Specialist Constructors Council (NSCC), who have 29 member organisations representing over 7000 SMEs in the construction sector, reported some of their members completing over 100 prequalification questionnaires (PQQs) per year, each requesting essentially the same information. They estimated that, every year, 5,000 contractors collect information on 180,000 sub-contractors and suppliers using more than two million paper questionnaires at a cost to the industry of £250 million. Their comment was “this is bad for business and the construction industry as a whole and NSCC fully supports setting a standard for prequalification”.


BSI/PAS 91 is a publicly available specification that sets out the nature, content and format of a set of questions on core criteria essential to prequalification for construction tendering. Its purpose is:

To bring a consistency to the scope and nature of essential pre-qualification questions;
To enhance the effectiveness for both the purchaser and the supplier of the construction tendering process (eliminating bureaucracy and duplication);

To increase the scope for recognition between various types of PQQ schemes.
It is, however, realised that the questions contained within the PAS may well be subject to further change over time.

Mark Woods, Managing Director of Statius, commented “we have been working with a couple of companies to assist them meet the PAS 91 PQQ requirements and, if this does come off and does get recognised across the sector, it will result in a major reduction in the effort contractors have to invest in the PQQ process”.


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