PFI Project Expiry – British Transport Police
Commencing in 1999, the British Transport Police PFI Project provided accommodation across 7 sites. Having supported the delivery of police services across London for 23 years the project reached contract expiry and handback in March 2022.
Understanding and then delivering the contractual expiry process and reverting the facilities to the control of separate entities (public and private) needed all project stakeholders to work together.
Vercity was the provider of management services to the PFI Project Company and was a vital part of the expiry process. Therefore, it was crucial to ensure there was no disruption of the business as usual of the PFI Project, which supports the police in their activities. As a result, resources were tasked to each of the four key workstreams identified.
Expiry planning commenced in 2018 with a workshop and briefing. In these early stages, it is essential to review the process and engage with legal advisors to clarify the obligations. Coordination and collaboration with other project stakeholders quickly following to establish and deliver the process for asset and documentation handback.
The PFI contract has four key workstreams, with the management of staff transfers part of a separate workstream.
PFI Contract Key Workstreams:
1) Ensuring Asset Condition
The contract set out the requirements at expiry, including assessing the future maintenance of hand back assets. Therefore, the focus was not only on ensuring the compliment of assets with statutory and contractual requirements up to the expiry. But also that the assets would meet the future requirements.
Vercity technical specialists were engaging in validating asset conditions and reporting their findings. Where works were identified, they supported the contractor in assessing and delivering the required works. Resourcing the key workstream resourced appropriately was important, and helping the contractor find solutions rather than just raising issues continued the positive collaboration that underpinned the whole contract expiry process.
2) Information and Documentation
Document transfers to London Underground and the private landlord totalled 1.5 gigabytes of soft copy documents and 23 archive boxes of hard copy documents. Without a concerted effort to digitise and collate documents in the final years, the split would have been very different. However, there should be no underestimation of the work to get to that point.
An action tracker was put in place upon the agreement of a document sign-off protocol. This would ensure all stakeholders had a single reference point for the activity around the expiry process. Implementing this required time and commitment from all parties but having a clear plan for managing the process itself was invaluable and ensured everyone knew what was happening.
The incoming contractor needed a lot of information and in the months immediately prior to the practical handover regular review meetings were held. Two key decisions helped this process to run smoothly:
i) Confirming that aside from HR matters the Authority client would be the key link with the incoming contractor, filtering the requests for information and managing the process
ii) Tracking the information provided so that all parties knew what had already been provided and what remained outstanding
3) User Communications
Communications to end users, not just the Authority client, was a key activity stream. This was especially so in the final months of the contract. Agreeing on a clear communications plan early and, with the benefit of hindsight, an FAQ reference document would help to keep end-users informed. However, there will be questions from users and other parties even with these.
Addressing enquires promptly and professionally requires the designation of one of the project parties as the point of contact and putting the capacity and capability in place to respond.
4) Property Transaction
One of the sites was an asset of the PFI Project Company. However, there was an agreement to sell to London Underground on the expiry of the project.
As a distinct workstream, a separate team acting for the Project Company handled the negotiations and transaction. As a result, the core team could focus on the preparation and handover of the assets and documentation.
Having the right people doing the right things on the key workstreams was critical to making the handback a success:
- Legal advice to ensure the process is understood.
- Asset specialists to ensure condition is met.
- Commercial advisors to manage property aspects and transaction.
With this support in place, the operations team could focus on day-to-day delivery while coordinating the overall expiry process.
Anna Ricci | General Manager
The lessons learned from this experience feed into our work on Project Exit, led by Commercial Director Patrick Hamill.