Clause 31.1 confirms that a programme can either be bound into the contract or a first programme issued for acceptance after contract award within the time scales indicated within contract date part 1. If a programme is incorporated into the contract then this in effect becomes the first accepted programme.
In practical terms it is fundamental that a detailed thorough programme by the Contractor should be produced at tender stage and included within the Contractor’s tender submission. From the Client’s perspective this would demonstrate that a) the Contractor has the ability to produce a programme and use the associated software, and b) the Contractor gives a clear demonstration that they understand the project and have reflected this in a clear logical format. For this reason the programme produced should be a significant factor in the assessment of the overall tender submission and be reflected as such in any scoring or weighting that the Client may use to evaluate the tender.
From the Contractor’s view, rather than this tender programme just being a big tick in the box to a Client, a detailed programme at this stage should verify that indeed the determined contract period is achievable, and thus the resultant tender price submitted is much more likely to be realistic and achievable. Too many contractors base their price on the Client’s Completion Date in contract data part I, and only when they win the work do they consider a detailed programme and actually find that the date is unachievable or will require considerable more resources than originally envisaged and priced for.
This first programme is very important when you also consider clause NEC4 clause 50.5 (clause 50.3 under NEC3), which allows the Project Manager to withhold 25% of the Price for Work Done to Date (the interim contractor valuations) if an accepted programme is not in place in place or one has not been issued showing the information this contract requires. This is the only place in the whole of the contract that allows the Project Manager to withhold money from the Contractor, and demonstrates the importance it puts on the programme process. This is however only applicable to the first programme, and once the first one is accepted then this clause no longer applies. It assumes that the Contractor will maintain this level of detail and content from there on in. The Project Manager does have recourse however in other ways, in as much as if ever a subsequent programme is not compliant to 31.2 below then they would not accept that programme, and if they have rejected the latest programme they can make their own assessment of a compensation event (clause 64.1).