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InForm: Keeping you informed from the GPA (February 2024)

WELCOME TO INFORM, February 2024

Alan Whitelaw, Property Director

Welcome to this edition of InForm.

Through this newsletter we hope to keep you InForm(ed) on a number of key priorities we are working on, as well as recent successes and upcoming opportunities. 

As an organisation, we are at the forefront of the Government’s priority to transform the Civil Service and deliver better services to the citizens of the UK. We continue to transform the Government’s estate and the relationship civil servants have with their workplace through our property and commercial expertise. 

Last year proved to be a very busy one for us with some key changes taking place at the organisation.

In November, we said farewell to our former Chief Executive Officer, Steven Boyd. Steven joined the GPA in 2019, a year after its creation in 2018 and played a pivotal role in establishing an organisation that provides professional property and asset management services across the Government’s office estate for all departments and arms length bodies (ALB’s). We wish him all the very best on his future endeavours. 

We have welcomed Mark Bourgeois, who joined us at the end of November, as our Interim Chief Executive Officer. Mark is an established corporate leader with strategic and operational real estate experience across asset management, investment, development and operations. We are very pleased to be welcoming Mark to our team and look forward to working with him under his leadership. 

I’d also like to extend a warm welcome to Lisa Commane, our new Chief Operating Officer (COO). Lisa joined us in October and will support us in delivering our ambition to transform the Civil Service.

In this issue:


Voice of the Supplier 2023 Survey – Thank You!

In our recent business plan, we committed to continuing our annual ‘Voice of the Supplier’ survey to ensure we are continually improving how we work with you.

The survey was developed by the Cabinet Office and is also used by other government departments to provide a benchmark for making improvements.

The 2022 survey identified two areas that needed to change: capturing social value in contract management; and making prompt payments.

To address this we have:

  • set up a contract with the Social Value Portal (SVP) to capture your social value work. This continues to be rolled out across directorates through our contracts and procurements.
  • introduced Proactis, the GPA’s contract management and Purchase to Pay (P2P) system. This system provides more control and consistency in how we buy and pay for goods and services.

When Proactis was first introduced there was an increase in late payments. We have been working hard to address this problem by introducing contract controls, and the development of a prompt payment policy, like that of, ‘No contract, No PO’ and ‘No PO, No Pay’. These changes have all helped to reduce late payments.

Based on your feedback, we also recognise that you require more time to respond to our ‘Invitations to Tender’ (ITTs) and this is also something that we are actively working to improve.

We hope you can see the value of providing us with feedback as it enables us to continue to make improvements.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to us and please complete our next survey which will be circulated in the third quarter of this year.

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We’ve published our first Environmental, Social and Governance report

We have published our first Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report,  which highlights our recent achievements in the area and our priority ESG topics going forward, including our commitment to sustainability and social value.

Amongst a range of key metrics, our ESG report highlights the environmental performance and carbon reduction of the organisation when constructing new government office hubs across the country by ensuring they meet the high standards of sustainability. 

We are still on our ESG journey and are proud of our environmental achievements so far. Our environmental work is underpinned by our strategic objective to contribute to net zero and challenging ourselves to go beyond industry standards. By being members of the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), the IEMA and the Better Buildings Partnership enables us to support the Greening Government Commitments.

We have also reaffirmed our commitment to removing gas fuel sources from our buildings and introducing district heat systems. District heat systems provide heating to multiple buildings in a defined area from one single source. These heating systems use a network of underground pipes to deliver hot water or steam to buildings. Individual heat interface units transfer heat from the central system into instantaneous heating and hot water as required in the individual heating system. 

The report also touches on our benefits review currently taking place with a key focus on social value. As part of this review the installation of certain photovoltaic cells (PV) was terminated following concerns over modern slavery within the manufacturing process. Our commitment to human rights made it incongruous to allow this PV system to be installed and an alternative manufacturer was identified.  

Clive Anderson, our Director of Capital Projects, and Jason McEwen, our Portfolio & Programme Management Director, Capital Projects presented this ESG report at the recent British Council for Offices’s (BCO) 2023 conference in London.

Speaking at the BCO’s opening discussion on ‘The future of Real Estate and its role in delivering more sustainable cities’ session, Clive said:  

I had the privilege to join Guy Battle, John Gummer, Rt Hon Lord Deben, Pete Gladwell, Eri Mitsostergiou and Gareth Jones of Town Square Spaces to discuss our industry-leading approach to ESG.

The BCO conference gave us the opportunity to identify more that we can do to ensure we are fully embedding ESG practices in all areas of our work, as we’ve proudly placed long-term environmental interests at the heart of our decision making. 

It also provided us with the opportunity to learn from other sector leaders about challenges and concerns they have when embedding ESG practices while trying to remain financially viable.

Jason McEwen, Portfolio & Programme Management Director for Capital Projects added:

The pandemic changed how we work and how we continue to manage expectations around ESG. 

The conference enabled us to share some of the achievements and commitments we’ve achieved so far including establishing our Net Zero Programme, targeting less than 5% of waste to landfill and zero single-use plastics and the publication of our Net Zero Annex of the Government Workplace Design Guide.

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We have joined the Better Buildings Partnership

We recently became members of the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) and are the sixth organisation to join the membership organisation, which now represents 54 leading property owners. Read the press release on BBP’s website.

Through the BBP membership, we are collaborating with a number of property owners who are committed to improving the sustainability of commercial buildings. 

 Alongside this, we have an Executive Sustainability Committee responsible for minimising energy, waste and water, improving climate resilience and reducing embodied carbon in construction.

Dr Miguel Godfrey, our Head of Sustainability said:

We have a crucial role to play in the decarbonisation of the built environment. As part of our investment in high quality, productive, inclusive and sustainable work environments in every nation and region of the UK, a key priority for us is building the sustainability skills needed to deliver change on the ground and champion our sustainability goals to make them happen.

We are therefore delighted to join Better Buildings Partnership, and look forward to collaborating with other members to further understand key enablers, aligning our efforts and support to the delivery of market transformational initiatives.

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Enhancing the customer experience

It’s been another busy quarter in the Chief Technology Office. Thanks to our many suppliers for all your hard work and commitment as we continue to resolve issues, move things forward and deliver for our clients.

I know that at times like these, when there’s so much going on, you can get stuck in the weeds. For me, it helps to stand back and put myself in our customers’ shoes. How do we want them to feel when they come into the office? How can we help them be productive, collaborate with others and feel less stressed by problems with technology?

We know our vision is to create a transformed, shared, sustainable and value for money government estate, supporting civil servants to work productively in every nation and region of the UK. It’s all working towards One Estate, a component of the Civil Service Interoperability Programme. 

But what does all that mean for our customers, the hundreds of thousands of civil servants?

Think of the customer journey, a seamless customer experience when using our offices – that’s what we’re working towards. Our goal is that customers arrive at a building and use GovPass to securely access the building, with anonymous data recorded for occupancy reports to help us run and manage workplace services, and the property estate, more effectively.

They connect straight onto GovWifi with their devices, to which they’re already registered in a simple one-off sign-in process. Customers shouldn’t need to think about this happening, it should just work, so they can. They send documents to print securely using GovPrint at any printer on any floor, and scan them too if required – and while we shouldn’t encourage people to print, quite the opposite, it should be seamless when they need to. If it is a GPA-managed building they book a meeting room through the single booking system and plug a laptop in to use the AV provided. And if there are any issues, the service desk is there to fix them.

We call it interoperability. Our customers might call it a hassle-free experience. The civil servants who work from our properties will be able to move freely from one building to another, collaborating with others across department boundaries, and working more productively than would otherwise be possible

We’re putting in place all the building blocks for that future vision of One Estate. GovPass is now used by over 96,000 civil servants. The occupancy data we collect extends to over 770,000 square metres. GovWifi has over 500,000 active users, with satisfaction at 85%, and shared networks are standard in our hub buildings. GovPrint is already saving money with its economies of scale, more than doubling its customer base in October, and with room booking and AV that is simple to use, meetings are easier to manage, helping customers be more productive at work.

We’re also setting the standards across government in property technology. Not only do we use these design guidelines, but others do too, helping to spread a consistent, high-quality approach across government.

While our One Estate products are at different stages of maturity, all have now been implemented in offices shared by multiple departments. They’ve been well received and are starting to deliver benefits, and we’ll continue to work with departments to further improve them.

When we take time out to look at the bigger picture we’re making a real difference – and helping to make the Civil Service a great place to work.


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We have completed an office refurb in South Colonnade, London

We’re excited to announce that we’ve successfully completed the fast-tracked refurbishment of the fifth floor of our Government Hub in London’s Canary Wharf at 10 South Colonnade, with our industry partners; AECOM, The Senator Group and Overbury.

These works form part of an ambitious plan to create enhanced working environments tailored to our clients’ unique needs and operational styles.

Our project management team worked hard to deliver this challenging refurbishment on a fast-track programme of just six months, taking a 5,000 square metre fit-out which was over a decade old, removing it completely and installing a fantastic new space based on the Government Workplace Design Guide’s innovative principles. This space was previously occupied by a private sector tenant, but has now been occupied by a Civil Service department, allowing the whole building to be a government space.

The new design focuses on a balance of formal and informal spaces with refreshment hubs, meeting rooms, do not disturb rooms and mixed usage pods. 10 South Colonnade is now a smart connected building, offering staff a more collaborative way of working within the hub.

Abigail Field, Project Manager for the refurbishment said:

The different teams all worked brilliantly together and we delivered this project on time. The new work spaces better support Civil Service colleagues to be more productive and collaborative, while enhancing wellbeing at work.

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Our newest strategic partners JLL and BNP Paribas Real Estate signed our strategic partner charter

Our newest strategic partners JLL and BNP Paribas Real Estate signed our strategic partner charter in August.

The charter exists to set out how we work collaboratively with the private sector by adopting strategic supplier relationship management for clients.

Our strategic partnerships are enhancing our service offering and enabling us to exceed expectations to deliver better outcomes and greater value for money. Through signing the charter we collaborate to deliver an enhanced client experience by exploring innovations and improvements to challenge the standards and identify new ways of working.

Our Strategic Partner Charter recognises the ten principles that underpin our commitment to always delivering better for our clients, customers and stakeholders.

Alan Whitelaw, Director of Property said:

This charter reinforces our commitment to work in collaboration with strategic partners to ensure we deliver a transformed, sustainable and value for money government estate. Working with JLL and BNP Paribas Real Estate is key to helping us ensure we reach our ambition of transforming the Civil Service through its estate.

Anthony Rooney, Group Accounts Director at JLL said:

The Charter sets out the key principles for collaborative working and is a shared tool to guide our conversations, decisions, and behaviours. It provides a strong foundation for our relationship keeping us aligned and engaged. What we’re doing with the GPA account and others is cutting-edge, with the ability to make a significant difference to thousands of government employees, supporting them in delivering outstanding services.

Steve Harber, Head of Property Management at BNP Paribas Real Estate said:

The charter reinforces our commitment to work with the Government Property Agency to deliver a transformed, shared, sustainable and value for money government estate. We are incredibly excited to support the GPA in realising the estate’s full potential in the years to come, and build on a successful first 12-months together as strategic partners.

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Reminder about the Government Workplace Design Guide and annexes

We published the Government Workplace Design Guide to provide guidance for the development and fit-out of all buildings across the central government office estate.

The Guide and associated technical annexes outline benchmark aspirations for an interoperable and inclusive office estate, based on design best practice.They should be used in tandem with our customer requirements to support high quality, user-focussed and recognisable office design. 

We will be continually reviewing and refining to make improvements to the Guide and supporting documentation as we gain further insights from our projects and customers. 

We are also currently working on more detailed room briefing sheets that will be published next year, alongside a new biodiversity annex, and revised net zero and sustainability annex.

Any updates to existing documents and any new documents will be made available in our public folder.

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Find out more about the Government Property Agency here

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