Audit reports

Guide no. 08/01: Cleaning of office premises

Guidelines

(1) Prior to awarding contracts for cleaning services, Federal Government entities and grantees that receive institutional funding from the Federal Government should carry out an efficiency study (to determine whether cleaning should be done by in-house staff or by a contractor). For this purpose, the surfaces to be cleaned should be completely measured, adequate cleaning intervals should be determined and foreseeable additional demands for cleaning (e.g. building measures) should be taken into account.

(2) Prior to awarding contracts for cleaning services, comprehensive tender documents should be prepared which furnish all information needed to calculate a bid price. The contract with the cleaning company should comprise all provisions about the rights and duties of the parties and should be in line with model contracts.

(3) To ensure service quality, the cleaning should be inspected regularly. The kind and extent of the inspection and the procedure for dealing with poor performance should be stipulated in the contract with the cleaning service provider.

Background

The expenditure on cleaning office premises is a major cost factor in facility management. In the years 2006-2007, we audited the expenditure on the cleaning of office premises at seven bodies incorporated under public law (non-departmental public bodies) and at grantees that receive institutional funding. We found that it is possible to considerably reduce expenditure and to improve service quality.

(1) The audited entities had their office premises cleaned either by own staff or by a contractor. In some cases, the entities did not have updated site measurements. Therefore, they calculated the surfaces to be cleaned inaccurately. Moreover, they did not appropriately determine cleaning intervals for different types of floor space (e.g. circulation space, offices, bathrooms, tea kitchens).

A precise and current space measurement, cleaning intervals in line with the use of the spaces, the determination of the equipment and staff needed and allowing for foreseeable additional demand for cleaning (e.g. in connection with building measures, special events) are basic prerequisites for determining cleaning needs. These basic data are the indispensable basis for unbiased efficiency studies (alternative options of using own staff for cleaning or using the services of an external contractor).

(2) In the case of some of the audited entities, the tender documents were incomplete. They lacked e.g. a complete specifications sheet (with such information as spaces to be cleaned, cleaning intervals) and detailed price sheets (prices per square metre, hourly pay rates). Also, some entities did not comprehensively stipulate necessary contractual provisions. For instance, provisions about payment terms, the qualification of cleaning staff and the duration of the contract were lacking.

Contracts for the cleaning of premises are to be awarded competitively to expert contractors that possess the necessary capacities and can offer them at reasonable prices. Tender documents should include all information needed by bidders to calculate robust bid prices and submit comparable bids. Model forms of the association of contract cleaners provide helpful advice. The contract with the cleaning company should comprehensively stipulate all rights and duties of the parties to the contract. Model contracts of the association of contract cleaners contain detailed provisions that should be amended in line with the needs of the users of the premises.

(3) Some entities documented the daily work of the contractor and had it countersign the results. One entity commissioned the contractor to do the documentation without verifying the work done. Other entities waived the documentation of work done. Where entities identified poor performance by the contractor, the contracts sometimes lacked provisions for claiming compensation.

The type and scope of the cleaning services invoiced should be appropriately verified. Both the entity and the contractor should participate in this process. Quality assurance and the procedure to be followed in case of poor cleaning performance should be stipulated in the contract because this will make it easier for the entity to assert any founded claims against the contractor.

Note

Some entities were able to reduce their expenditure on the cleaning of premises by up to 40 per cent by fully and accurately listing the surfaces, updating the surface measurements, adapting the cleaning intervals to actual needs and by accurately estimating the actual equipment and staffing needs.

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