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Centre for Digital Built Britain completed its five-year mission and closed its doors at the end of September 2022

This website remains as a legacy of the achievements of our five-year foundational journey towards a digital built Britain

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is a major UK Government department headed up by the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor. Its mission is to deliver a world-class justice system that works for everyone in society.

The MoJ commenced its information management journey almost 10 years ago and has been a pathfinder for Government clients and the wider industry with its explorations in implementing building information modelling (BIM) as set out in the UK BIM Framework. When the Construction Innovation Hub supported Buildings Client Group (BCG) was launched in 2018, the MoJ team were among the inaugural members, bringing with them a great deal of experience and first-hand knowledge, but also an eagerness and curiosity to learn. They have proven highly collaborative, helpful and inspiring members of the BCG.

The MoJ is a significant estate owner and operator. Managing the second largest estate in government, with built assets valued at over £10bn spanning a collective floor area of nearly 5.6 million sqm and costing £1.5bn to run, the MoJ has sizeable and often unique challenges to its day-to-day operations.

The Need

The estate consists of a wide variety of built assets including 104 public sector prisons, 341 court and tribunal buildings and probation centres. The MoJ estates team also have responsibility for managing the operational assets for the Home Office including immigration centres and Border Force facilities. These built assets vary significantly in terms of age and condition from historical listed buildings through to new builds. Notably, a proportion of the estate (i.e. prisons) is in full use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has to follow strict security protocols that can impact upon access to buildings for contractors and the times when work can be carried out.

The main challenge the MoJ team faced before they started on their digital transformation journey was a lack of structured information that could provide insight across their portfolio of assets. With approximately 1000 projects annually, navigating complex security issues and a lack of clarity over operational procedures due to a shortfall in structured information, they faced considerable time delays, barriers and budget overspends.

Before commencing their information management journey using BIM in 2011, operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals were taking an average of six months to be successfully handed over. In addition to leading to greater efficiencies during construction, whilst reducing the handover period from construction to operations, the use of BIM helps to ensure that critical operational data is readily and appropriately available and accessible.  

The solution

In 2011, the UK government mandated in the UK Construction Strategy that from April 2016 all central Government funded building projects must use building information modelling (BIM) to

improve the performance of its facilities and better meet the requirements of those using them. In addition to this, in 2020 the Construction Playbook included a requirement for all departments to use the UK BIM Framework on a comply or explain basis. This was followed by the publication of the Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030 in September 2021, which includes an updated Information Management Mandate  superseding the 2016 BIM Mandate.

Implementing BIM at the MoJ enabled a joined-up, holistic overview of the estate that had not been achieved previously. Creating an easily accessible structured information system, with appropriate security controls, with data about what the assets are, where they are and how they operate is imperative for the MoJ.

This approach has helped to bridge the chasm between information held at the point of construction of a built asset, and its day-to-day operation, maintenance and repurpose, reducing the time spent on O&M handovers and creating far more efficiencies across the existing and future estates portfolio.

The MoJ was the first major government department to trial the introduction of BIM and implement Government Soft Landings (GSL). It received support and guidance from the UK BIM Task Group, the Centre for Digital Built Britain and the Construction Innovation Hub. The evolution to BIM predicted project cost savings of 20% to 40% in the build phase and over 40% saving if used during the operational phase*.

The first part of the journey was to establish the need. Gathering and structuring information is a considerable part of the process, however recognising a need and understanding how insight and control over data will ultimately be of benefit is the crucial first step. 

As the pioneering Government department in terms of BIM adoption it was also important for the MoJ to embark upon its journey considerate of the fact that it was forging a path along which other public sector organisations would follow.

Joining the BCG in 2018 enabled the MoJ team to collaborate with peers from across the public and private sectors, in a fully confidential capacity. Being a member of the BCG has given the MoJ the opportunity to share their best practice, but also to keep up to date with developments, gathering ideas from other sectors to ensure they retain their position as a pathfinder in government-led construction and asset management projects.

The story so far...

The MoJ started its digital transformation journey back in 2011 and began to realise the results shortly after with initial 20% savings in capital expenditure.

One of the MoJ’s early successes came in the form of the seminal Cookham Wood project. Located adjacent to an existing prison building, the Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institute was a construction project completed in 2014 that put into practice and tested many of the evolving BIM processes including the PAS1192 standards. The project comprised a new 180-person Accommodation Block and an associated Education Block to replace old and inefficient accommodation in the existing facility. Working collaboratively with Tier 1 and Tier 2 contractors to implement BIM from the earliest stages as well as following the GSL approach, the fully integrated team managed to deliver the project within the original agreed timeframe and achieved construction cost savings of 20%, in addition to prospective ongoing operational cost savings.**

To the present day, the MoJ continues to lead the way with their Information Management journey, expanding their knowledge and building on experience day by day. They have encountered considerable developments both in terms of general operations and with several new build prisons currently in the planning phase. Responses to the global COVID pandemic put additional pressure on resources, which they had to adapt swiftly and effectively to. The progress they have made on their journey with using BIM has undeniably contributed to their success in navigating the bends in the road they’ve encountered.

The introduction of the new international BIM standards (ISO 19650) in 2019 presented the MoJ team with an opportunity to review their position and introduce processes that would help to implement the new standards, using the UK BIM Framework, in such a way as to benefit them most effectively. Consequently, in a recent BCG assembly where the meeting agenda centred around the topic of ‘Bridging the Chasm Between Construction and Asset Management’, the team introduced members to their 20-week programme – facilitating the MoJ’s transition from BIM Level 2 to ISO 19650 and building on previous implementation from the Prison Estate Transformation Programme (PETP) – providing members with a unique look at how a successful transition programme can be created and implemented at scale.

Overview of the MoJ’s 20-week Transition Programme

 The MoJ’s mission is to provide rigour and structure around Information Management to;

  • gain efficiencies by providing clarity,
  • streamline our processes,
  • remove information waste,
  • and reduce risk.

The MoJ will adopt industry standards including ‘open’ standards. MoJ Exchange Information Requirements will include Geometrical, Alphanumerical and Documentation requirements that consider: Asset Management, Handover, Building Safety, Sustainability, Soft Landings, Post Occupancy Evaluation and Security. The MOJ and stakeholders (including Contractors) will provide input and comment to MoJ emerging ‘Information Management resources’.

A machine-readable exchange information requirements approach will enable digital tools through open APIs to reduce manual errors, automate process and ultimately create a better information deliverable for the MoJ. The project delivery team is exploring options to bridge the chasm between delivery and operation including:

  • MoJ Information Management Platform – used for development of MOJ Resources using databases across project delivery and operation.
  • MoJ Project Control Framework – suite of resources defining processes, templates and workflows around Project Delivery.
  • MoJ common data environment – checking that required information has been and delivered against the exchange information requirements.
  • Digital platform for Handover – the aim is to link the requirements to the delivery of information from the various delivery teams for operation.
  • BIM model validation tools – the aim would be the ability to generate model checking rules from the exchange information requirements.
  • Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) systems – the review of existing and future tools to develop requirements and processes.

While the MoJ initial focus is the New Prisons Programme (NPP), they will develop new information management resources in a scalable way for other MoJ programmes such as capital maintenance, the 3k place programme and the 10k place programme.

In addition to this the MoJ’s 20-week Transition Programme will consider the MoJ Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) Strategy which focuses on how to progress the use of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) across the MoJ’s projects. The increased use of MMC such as platform approaches for design and manufacture not only stands to reduce costs and increase efficiencies of both construction and asset management phases, but also helps the MoJ to achieve their sustainability goals.


  • 20% savings in capital expenditure
  • The Cookham Wood expansion project was delivered with construction cost savings of 20%
  • Predicted 20% operational cost savings and 40% increase in efficiencies
  • The Cookham Wood project contributed to the UK Construction Industry winning the International Fiatech James B. Porter, Jr. Award

Case Study commissioned and produced by the Buildings Client Group in collaboration with the MoJ, CDBB, Construction Innovation Hub and MoJ’s partners.

*Government Construction Client Group Building Information Modelling (BIM) Working Party - Strategy Paper - March 2011
**source: Constructing Excellence Procurement Case Study – Cookham Wood 2014.