The Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB) was established on 10th April 1973 under the State Industrial Corporations act of 1957.

At the time of its formation, the objective was for CECB to function exclusively as an organization providing consultancy services for large scale water resources projects identified and pursued by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) mainly based on the Water resources Development Plan of 1959 and UNDP/FAO Master Plan of 1968. During the early years CECB was called upon to prepare studies of several reservoir projects which were given priority such as MaduruOya, Kothmale and Samanalawewa.

In 1970, GOSL embarked on the ambitious plan to develop Mahaweli river basin for hydropower and irrigation over a period of 30 years.In 1978, GOSL decided to accelerate the Mahaweli Development Plan and sought to complete it within a period of 06 years. It required construction of many large reservoirs such as Kothmale, Victoria, Randenigala , MaduruOya and Rantembe in parallel within a short period.

CECB, still at infancy was called upon to serve as the local counterpart engineers to a diverse group of International Consultants and Contractors mobilized for the accelerated project. It completed this task successfully and received commendations from the Government. Through this involvement CECB was endowed with a well experienced human resource base.

With the completion of accelerated Mahaweli Development programme, CECB embarked upon diversification into sectors other than water resources. During the last two decades it gained specialization in Buildings, Roads, Ports, Coastal, and Irrigation.

Services of CECB were further expanded by establishing an engineering laboratory and a geological investigations unit.

Act of incorporation was amended in 1995 for CECB to engage in "Design-Build" or "Turn Key" services. Many landmark projects were completed since then on Design Build basis where CECB undertook construction as well.

The act was further amended in 1998 allowing CECB to form Limited liability companies for specific purposes. In 2003, a fully owned subsidiary Central Engineering Services (Pvt) Limited (CESL) was formed. Since 2016, the subsidiary is tasked with the construction services.