Highways England has announced a major shake-up of its procurement and delivery arrangements with a raft of key responsibilities, worth scores of millions to the private market, being brought back in-house.
Decision-making, investment and maintenance plans will be brought under the direct oversight of the government-owned company in areas where contracts are due for renewal.
These are Cornwall and Devon (Area 1); Somerset, Avon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire (Area 2); Cumbria and parts of Lancashire (Area 13); Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Durham and North Yorkshire (Area 14).
Area 7 in the East Midlands already operates under the new asset-led delivery model, following difficulties in its procurement.
A Highways England spokesperson said the new system ‘will enable us to take more ownership of investment decisions and to increase our intelligence on local factors that influence where work is needed’.
‘By directly engaging suppliers we will help drive down cost and waste, providing the best possible value for money for taxpayers’, he added.
The new system sees Highways England act in much the same way as a lead contractor under the former Managing Agent Contract model, which is being phased out.
Their replacement, Asset Support Contracts (ASCs), are still part of Highways England’s toolkit and would be considered where appropriate, a spokesman told Transport Network.
Highways England will shortly be awarding ASCs for areas 4 and 12, which were further advanced in the procurement process when it adopted the asset-led delivery model in the East Midland.
The new approach will comprise four key types of contract:
- Maintenance and incident response – providing routine maintenance and responding to incidents from Highways England depots;
- Design – taking briefs from Highways England and turning them into well-defined packages of work, including repairing and reinstating our network after incidents, where necessary; and
- Specialist services – such as weather forecasting and laboratory testing.
- Capital project delivery – delivery of work including emergency repairs.
Highways England also revealed it plans to combine the design and capital project delivery contracts for areas 1 and 2, with further alignment possible in the future.
Ahead of the asset delivery model being adopted, Highways England will extend the existing asset support contract in Area 1 for 3 months, with both areas taking on the asset-led delivery model across by July 2017.