All change for HE contract procurement

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan has confirmed to Infrastructure Intelligence the HE’s next intentions for contract procurement, including less secondary bidding for suppliers on regional framework deals.

The HE says it is moving away from a “one size fits all” approach. Previously all work of the Roads Investment Programme was let through the Collaborative Delivery Framework (CDF). To date £3.69bn of the £5m maximum possible spend through the CDF is committed. By December 2018, a new arrangement will be needed.

Four ‘routes to market’, are being outlined: Contracts for the next tranche of the Smart Motorway programme will be let through alliancing arrangements from early 2018; conventional road and junction improvements – the Regional Investment Programme (RIP) – will be awarded in regional lots; ‘complex infrastructure projects’ (A303 Stonehenge and Lower Thames Crossing) will be procured bespoke; and maintenance and minor capital works will go through HE’s Asset Delivery Model.

The second route, for the RIP, is arguably most significant, if the HE really does start to award contracts directly to companies and joint ventures on regional frameworks, without secondary bidding. 

“We recognise the need for procurement routes appropriate for each particular part of the market; for bespoke contracts for complex projects for instance and we want to move away from the costly and stop-start nature of repetitive bidding,” O’Sullivan says. “We’ve not worked out the detail yet, but we want to be rewarding suppliers on the basis of performance rather than just the value of their bids. There will still be some secondary bidding, but direct awards also, where companies do well.”