HS2 has unveiled tougher rules on firms bidding for work across the £55.7bn project aimed at reducing the potential for conflicts of interest.
Under the new guidelines, companies bidding for work will be required to provide details on all personnel who have previously been employed by HS2, including dates worked and the nature of their role.
The details will need to be validated by a named HS2 contact before being assessed by the client for a potential conflict of interest.
The new bidding rules follow the procurement saga surrounding conflict of interest allegations which saw CH2M withdraw from the phase 2b development partner contract despite being awarded the £170m deal just two months earlier.
The allegations against the US firm centred on questions over HS2’s former chief of staff Christopher Reynolds and his involvement in the CH2M bid, as revealed by Construction News.
CH2M said at the time it was withdrawing from the contract, saying the speculation risked further delays to the project.
The new guidelines have emerged as part of the documentation sent out to suppliers bidding for the £3bn contracts to deliver Old Oak Common and Euston stations.
In addition to the guidelines involving former HS2 staff, bidders will be required to provide HS2 with a list of all organisations and key personnel who have supported the development of their bids.
These would then be reviewed by both supplier and HS2 to mitigate any conflict-of-interest risk at an early stage.
The client has also set out stronger rules for firms delivering work across multiple contracts on the project.
These include suppliers keeping a list of all personnel working under each contract, with this being regularly audited by HS2.
Staff working across the project will be required to sign confidentiality agreements, while each firm will put forward an individual responsible for monitoring potential, perceived or actual conflicts of interest.
The Euston and Old Oak Common contracts are likely to attract bids from some of the UK’s biggest construction firms, some of which may have already won work on the civils contracts and enabling works already handed out by HS2.
As part of the beefed-up guidelines, companies will be required to “ringfence” teams working on different HS2 contracts.
This will require the teams to work in different physical locations and have completely separate reporting lines and support functions, such as secretaries and printing facilities.
The ringfencing will also mean personnel working on one contract will be prohibited from moving from one delivery team to another at a later date without a written agreement from HS2.
Last week, HS2 began the race for the £1.65bn deal to redevelop Euston station and the £1.3bn contract to build a new HS2 station at Old Oak Common in west London.
Companies will now be given until 3 October to submit their PQQs, with HS2 choosing which firms to invite to tender next January.
Evaluation and negotiation between HS2 and the shortlisted firms is scheduled to take place between May and July next year, and winners for both contracts will be announced next September.