Simplifying tender processes brings better UK design

Letters have been flying about regarding the vagaries of public sector pitching. Mark McArthur Christie (DW 3 August) made a valiant cry for simplifying the process but was soundly put in his place by David Bartholomew (DW 24 August).

Bartholomew argues that simplifying the process would encourage more people to jump on the bandwagon. He doesn’t reflect on whether any of these might be worthwhile additions to public sector design.

We sit on several Government rosters. It is work we enjoy, which can be very high profile and which we consider to be integral to our contribution to the UK design industry.

Our most recent appointment was to the Transport for London framework, having worked for TfL on and off over the years. We love the work and we enjoyed the tender process. With a clarity and simplicity beyond any others we have done before or since, the TfL process had been carefully researched and constructed not merely to aid its procurement efficiency but, importantly, to allow them to make a fair and focused judgement.

At a group meeting of all the rostered agencies, there was unanimous agreement that its selection was excellent.

In my opinion, TfL’s investment in simplifying the process shows it as a very worthwhile practice – both for procurement teams and design agencies. I would encourage McArthur Christie to be hopeful of things improving should others follow their lead.

As for Adam White’s biting attack (DW 7 September) on TfL’s ‘latest pitch’ as a ’72-hour, open brief, with a minimal budget for which you could come up with as many ideas as you wanted’ – he suggests an experience far from what we experienced. A blank canvas is a fantastic opportunity to put forward spontaneous ideas, showing how we think and what we can do. No, our design wasn’t chosen in that instance, but our work was noted and we have had many projects since.

Claire Lowson, New business director, Minale Tattersfield, Richmond, Surrey TW10 6UR

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