HMEP unveils new standardised approach to highways procurement


A new suite of standardised highways procurement documents has been released featuring innovations that councils ‘cannot afford to ignore’ according to one of its keys architects.

 Produced by the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP), the ‘off the shelf’ documents can be used across the highways sector and can save clients and private contractors £150,000 each, every time they are used at the tender and procurement stage alone experts said.

Savings would be made by removing the need to draw up individual bespoke tenders and the standardisation of pricing as well as additional ongoing savings throughout the maintenance contract.

Developed in collaboration with council directors’ body ADEPT and industry group the Highways Term Maintenance Association (HTMA), the documents build on best practice from both clients and providers.

As well as an updated standard form of contract – based around NEC 3 - the procurement suite has new documents including a Price List of around 2,000 items frequently used and procured by local authorities with guidance on what to use, how and when.

It also has a new standard Method of Measurement document ‘that provides new definitions, units and rules where none exist currently’, the HMEP said.

As part of updating procurement practice the HMEP has also introduced a ‘kilometre rule’ to increase efficiency by preventing works teams running from one job to another without considering the proximity of different works.

Department for Transport adviser and leading member of HMEP, Matthew Lugg OBE, told Transport Network: ‘We have included what we call the 'km rule' to help boost productivity. In the past clients might contract services that said you have to fix a certain amount of potholes with no reference to where the work might take place. This rule introduces a geographic principle meaning works apply to a specific area of the highways network.

‘We have also developed guidance on TUPE [protections for workers who transfer from one employee to another]. Sometimes it can be a more of an art than a science but this guidance provides a best practice approach. ‘

The guidance was developed by ‘piggy backing’ on procurement work Hampshire and Devon CC, both of which will use the documents in their procurement. Mr Lugg also revealed that other councils including North Somerset, Telford and Wrekin, Plymouth and Warwick have already expressed an interest in using the documents.

Transport Network understands Highways England is also interested in the documents as a potential tool in developing a new model for area based contracts.

Keith Gale of Hampshire CC, said: ‘I would encourage all involved with the tendering, pricing and administration of highways related term contracts to examine and use the Method of Measurement and Price List produced by HMEP. For the first time it provides standard descriptions, measurement guidance and item coverage for contracts of this type. This allows all parties to clearly understand their roles, responsibilities, duties and risks involved in contracts. Having a uniform basis upon which to express these in economic terms must be a way forward.’

On behalf of the Highways Term Maintenance Association (HTMA) reference group, David Binding, told Transport Network: ‘This is a groundbreaking contract mechanism unique in the industry. The key is the collaboration between the public and private sectors.'

He added that HMEP working groups were now working on developing HMEP’s service information and service specification documents to bring them in line with this new procurement suite.

For more information on HMEP go to: .

The HMEP: Procurement documents, which are free to download here are:

• Notes for Guidance (updated)

• Standard Form of Contract (updated)

• Price List (new)

• Method of Measurement (new)

• Standard Specification and Standard Details, Official Journal of the European Union, Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, Instruction for Tender (remain unchanged)

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