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Contractor's lists
#1
I'd be interested to know, especially from any curators lurking out there, how much variation there is in the way the County lists of contractors are compiled and maintained. I ask because it is increasingly bringing up issues that would be easily resolved if they simply never existed. The main problem is this - in the area I work there are a number of organisations, typically individuals, who do what is generally agreed to be pretty poor to sub-standard work.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that this is not a general attack on one-man-bands!

The issue with the lists is that as far as one can tell these inviduals, who are by nature of their limited overheads cheap, are made cheaper by the fact that they appear to make no effort to advertise themselves (not even an entry in Yellow pages, which is pretty cheap). They effectively get work because of the existance of 'The List', and will win it because they are cheap, which is, for the sort of small jobs they are doing, the key issue in most cases.

The local curator often complains that they do poor work, and yet has the power to stop them by either removing them from the list, which they won't do because the list is not of 'recommended' contractors, or by scrapping the list altogether. Yet they and the list remain.

My other concern about such lists is that as they often include names of companies/organisations/individuals from a wide area, which I would have thought further encourages aggressive tendering into areas quite distant from their base, and allows the developer to simply contact everyone on list, thus making sure they get the very lowest price and keeping rates and therefore wages as low as possible.

I'd be interested to know what other people's experience of county lists is like and any thoughts on the matter. Am I just being mean and paranoid?
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#2
Personally I'm in favour of the lists, as I don't see what alternative a small "one man band" operation has in terms of advertisement opportunities. If curators are unhappy with the quality of work undertaken by particular contractors, they should make sure that they monitor these contractors closely and pull them up if the work doesn't meet standards.
Working for a company that cannot compete with one-man bands in terms of price, I am also aware that one-man bands cannot compete with larger companies on a great many jobs, simply because they can't meet the scope of all the work that's required.

?He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself?
Chinese Proverb
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#3
What is the point of county lists if they are not recommendations? It seems silly to have a list and not be able to edit it. Anyone with access to the internet can quickly find the archaeological contractors in their area. Anyone who doesn't have a website is probably not that interested in the work, or relies on word of mouth/previous client relationships. Besides, surely members of FAME shold be pointing poeple towards the IfA, where they can find a list of ROs.
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#4
Quote:quote:Originally posted by RedEarth

I'd be interested to know, especially from any curators lurking out there, how much variation there is in the way the County lists of contractors are compiled and maintained. I ask because it is increasingly bringing up issues that would be easily resolved if they simply never existed. The main problem is this - in the area I work there are a number of organisations, typically individuals, who do what is generally agreed to be pretty poor to sub-standard work.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that this is not a general attack on one-man-bands!

The issue with the lists is that as far as one can tell these inviduals, who are by nature of their limited overheads cheap, are made cheaper by the fact that they appear to make no effort to advertise themselves (not even an entry in Yellow pages, which is pretty cheap). They effectively get work because of the existance of 'The List', and will win it because they are cheap, which is, for the sort of small jobs they are doing, the key issue in most cases.

The local curator often complains that they do poor work, and yet has the power to stop them by either removing them from the list, which they won't do because the list is not of 'recommended' contractors, or by scrapping the list altogether. Yet they and the list remain.

My other concern about such lists is that as they often include names of companies/organisations/individuals from a wide area, which I would have thought further encourages aggressive tendering into areas quite distant from their base, and allows the developer to simply contact everyone on list, thus making sure they get the very lowest price and keeping rates and therefore wages as low as possible.

I'd be interested to know what other people's experience of county lists is like and any thoughts on the matter. Am I just being mean and paranoid?

Hi
Your not necessarily being mean or paranoid, but this issue has been discussed many times over the last decade and there has never been any resolution. There are so many pros and cons to lists its really hard to get consensus.

One point I would like to make is that monitoring standards of work is a separate issue! There is no causality between poor work and appearance on a list. If the curators are complaining about quality then they need to get tougher!

On your point about units tendering from a wide area....welcome to the Free Market Economy.

Steven
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#5

I think that if we are in the process of writing a new PPG, then the tack on at the end should contain a refering point on the web, or with a major non-profit based regulator, with regular flexability and response in relation to the quality of the work.

Although saying that. If someone unscrumpulous got into a position of power they could black mark someone, or something, from the other side of the country.

We really have to stop thinking about big 'v' medium 'v' small in a battle royale.

The shape of the industry to come, will be nothing like the one we have now.

survival wise, your right, but a company can be setup and others can go into dormancy with relative ease.

That way you could keep the name, or ever so slightly modify the names of pre-existers.

It would almost be like when people started registering the internet addresses, with major bank names, ensuring that someone would have to pay out of their 'bottemless?' pockets.

Although, that idea may bring around some serious expenditure thoughs and maybe a change to something like Aviva, from Norwich Union.

Its amazing to think that even in this country, we struggle with the concepts of free and fair trade, at the ground level.



txt
Mike
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#6
Posted by Oxbeast:
Quote:quote:What is the point of county lists if they are not recommendations?
The point of the list is that an archaeological planning condition often leads the developer to ask the curator to identify potential contractors. The curator can then issue the list, saying something like 'this is a list of contractors who do this type of work in this area. Inclusion on the list is not a recommendation'.

Curators shouldn't have a 'recommended' list, because this would open their employer to legal action for restraint of trade from anyone not on the list. They can't delete people from the list for the same reason.

They could, potentially, restrict the list to RAOs, but that may then exclude good local units that haven't chosen to be RAOs, and of course not all curators are fans of the IFA.

1man1desk

to let, fully furnished
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#7

so if the IfA, sort themselves out, people might change their veiws on becoming RAO's?

but if a one person band is to be a RAO, the cost by comparison, to a larger unit would be a Major overhead., making it more difficult to compete.





txt
Mike
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#8
It is thorny, and I will support the musing of my learned colleague Steven. It's not what you have, it's how you use it....

We don't have a standard 'list' per se, although we will provide people, if they ask, with the names and details of organisations that have been recently doing comparable work in the area to a good standard. And we ALWAYS include the IFA number and encourage use of ROs. It has to be recognised that it is often a 'horses for courses' situation, where a group that might do fantastic watching briefs couldn't resource an excavation, or someone might do a bang up job on a military site but not have experience with medieval cemeteries. Often the biggest unit may not be what they need....

We will shortly be putting out new standards and guidance papers, and at the moment the draft says we will only accept specifications from ROs or MIFAs. I'm not sure how this will pan out, may not even make the final cut. But we're encouraging our one-man-band outfits to apply for one or the other.

But to be honest, we don't get asked for lists very often, I only get asked maybe once every two or three months. Most developers already have someone on board, it tends to be only the one off very small scale developers who need a pointer.
ML
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#9
I would think it's because they're experienced (either the consultant or the developer) and know who they can work with, although there will certainly be elements of cost and availability.

ML
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#10
Some useful and interesting points - the issue of resourcing different sizes of project is very important, and does make me wonder why the local curators allow some people to carry out some jobs, but it is difficult to stop them I suppose.

In response to 'welcome to the Free Market Economy' - do we really want archaeological tendering to be run in a 'Confused.com' or similar price comparison basis, as that is what is likely to happen. I certainly have seen requests for costs emailed to everyone on the list (by people who don't how to use the blind cc button on Outlook, or whatever it is called), which is always going to result in the lowest price winning. It will certainly leave costs open to be pushed down even further by unscrumpulous developers. I sometimes get the slight feeling that curators are almost trying to save the developers money at any cost and perhaps in doing so save themselves a lot of hassle :face-stir:
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