The Highways Agency is re-launching the tendering process for five major regional contracts thought to be worth more than £1.5bn, and will be reviewing the process to allow 'more ownership of investment decisions' in future.
The new Asset Support Contracts replaced the Managing Agent Contractor (MAC) model with a leaner, cheaper trunk road maintenance contract that planned to involve more of the supply chain and provide greater flexibility for contractor innovation.
While the Agency has successfully awarded six such contracts, which are now operational in various parts of the country, concerns about the stage 1 finance evaluation of the tendering process in several regions means the procurement programme for those areas will now operate under a revised timetable.
The tender process for Area 4, covering Kent, Sussex and small parts of Surrey and Hampshire, and Area 12 in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire was suspended in December. Contractors are now being invited to tender by mid-March - these contracts are worth an estimated £825m over five years.
Tendering for contracts Area 1 in Devon & Cornwall, 13 in Cumbria & Lancashire and 14 in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham & North Yorkshire – in total worth an estimated £800m over five years- has also been re-set.
A spokesperson for Highways Agency said: ‘We are committed to continually driving improvement in how our roads are maintained; improved and operated so that we can provide the best possible quality of service to road users. ‘As we go forward we will be using contract arrangements that best suit the particular type of work required.
‘Asset Support Contracts are one key part of the Agency’s ability to successfully deliver its objectives. We believe that by incorporating lessons learnt from our experience of these we will be able to award further ones, which will be able to fully support the delivery of a significant increase in investment over the next five years.’
The spokesman added there would be changes to how the Highways Agency runs the process in the last of the area contracts to be tendered, Area 7 in the East Midlands, with the Agency ‘taking more ownership of investment decisions’.
This contract still operates under the old MAC model and will be coming up for tender shortly.
The Highways Agency spokesman said: ‘At the same time we recognise we need to take more ownership of investment decisions and increase our intelligence on local factors that influence where work is most needed. This will also help drive down cost; remove waste and provide the best possible value for money for taxpayers.
‘We have an opportunity to do that where a contract is coming to the end of its term in the East Midlands, and so we will review the way that we work with our supply chain there to deliver maintenance and small improvements by separating how we manage and run design, routine maintenance and construction.’