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What are the Benefits of Being PAS 91 Compliant?

As part of an initiative to reduce the cost of public sector construction by up to 20%, the Efficiency and Reform Group working with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), and Infrastructure UK (IUK) published the Government Construction Strategy in May 2011.

Later revised in March 2016, it set out plans to deliver £1.7 billion of efficiencies. In 2021, Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP): Roadmap to 2030, superseded the Government Construction Strategy and works in parallel with the Construction Playbook and the National Infrastructure Strategy to streamline and promote collaboration and cost-effectiveness in the built environment. Aligned to this vision, PAS 91 contributes to cost reduction targets in construction by lowering tendering costs and is now a mandatory requirement for all public sector projects.

What is PAS 91?

PAS 91 represents ‘Publicly Available Specification’ for prequalification questionnaires (PQQs) in construction procurement. First launched in 2011 by the Government, and further developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), it sets out questions that clients and buyers can ask prospective contractors and suppliers to assess their suitability to bid as part of the pre-qualification process for procuring construction projects. 

There are four core modules to PAS 91, which are supplier identity, financial information, business and professional standing, and health and safety. Following two revisions, in 2013 and again in 2017, four optional modules were included to support the Government’s BIM Mandate focused on the adoption of BIM technology by both public and private sector organisations involved in the procurement and delivery of buildings and infrastructure. These modules include equal opportunity and diversity, environmental management, quality management, and Building Information Modelling. There are also a set of project-specific questions included by the buyer where appropriate to the project tender.

What are the benefits of PAS 91?

PAS 91 helps to address the challenges contractors and suppliers face when completing PQQs, particularly SMEs, who struggle to commit the time and resource to bidding. By standardising the pre-qualification question set, the time and costs associated with bidding are reduced and the process is more efficient and streamlined. Once suppliers have completed a PAS 91 questionnaire, the same set of standard responses can be used by all buyers who are PAS 91 compliant, reducing duplication and making it much quicker and easier to review and evaluate responses. All PAS 91 standardised questions can be applied to projects of different scopes and sizes, including OJEU procurement.

Removing the need to complete multiple PQQs in varying formats, allows suppliers to bid for more contracts, ensuring a competitive tender process and giving clients a higher quality of responses and a more robust tender list to choose from. The process ensures the right contractor is appointed based on their suitability, capability, compliance, and demonstrable evidence to carry out the works for the project’s specific requirements. 

The universal use of PAS 91 will holistically support communication, transparency, understanding and supplier capability across the construction sector.

Why are the modules within PAS 91 important to the public sector?

Public sector bodies are accountable for ensuring they procure responsibly and sustainably, with consideration being given to health and safety, fair and due diligent practices, quality standards, and environmental management.

PAS 91 advocates industry recognised accreditations such as ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), PAS 1192 (Building Information Management), OHSAS 18001 (occupational health and safety management), or a successful health & safety assessment from a registered member of Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP), such as CHAS (Construction Health and Safety) or Constructionline. Contractors who hold these certifications are exempt from certain sections of the questionnaire as they can demonstrate they meet the required industry standards; another example of streamlining the process and saving suppliers time and energy and giving buyers the peace of mind that suppliers are compliant in these key areas.

PAS 91 covers specific question sets relating to a supplier’s financial standing including turnover, profit, credit rating, credit limit, tangible assets, overall Delphi score and insurance information against liability. These background checks assure public sector organisations they are moving financially stable suppliers through to the next stages of the procurement process, mitigating risk. The questions reflect the approach set out in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM15).

Modules relating to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) require contractors to demonstrate compliance with EDI legislation such as the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998. The questions are designed to explore how business processes can demonstrate a commitment to non-discrimination and providing equal opportunities, for example through an organisation’s Equal Opportunities and Diversity Policy or inclusive recruitment practices.

PAS 91 also ensures compliance with ethical supply chains through Modern Slavery policies and fair practice through an Anti-bribery & Corruption Policy.

How Compliance Chain can help

The framework set out in PAS 91 enables buyers to utilise a standardised questionnaire widely identified by contractors, designers, and service providers. The Compliance Chain team have an in-depth understanding of the PAS 91 modules ensuring we can offer bidders maximum support in this area, saving time and money when completing PQQs.

As a verified Compliance Chain member (equivalent to Constructionline Gold), contractors and buyers benefit from a fully inclusive, simple to use and cost-effective platform to manage their construction projects. The dashboard is used to review the ongoing compliance and financial standing of suppliers, implement live monthly project reporting, and ensure projects are delivering demonstrable social value in line with the national measures. It captures and tracks the compliance of principal contractors and their supply chains against PAS 91 principles, including detailed information around professional standing, information security, and health and safety. Suppliers can be checked against up to fifteen compliance assessment areas. This makes compliance checking simple for buyers and allows contractors to keep their information and accreditations up to date, showcasing their compliance and eligibility for construction contracts.


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