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OFT REACTION: Highways Agency backs its processes

The Highways Agency has backed its procurement processes in the wake of the Office of Fair Trading fines yesterday.

The OFT fined 103 construction companies a total of £129.5 million after they were found to have colluded on building contracts.

The OFT, called in to investigate a complaint centred on a £30 million redevelopment of the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham in 2004, said it quickly became clear from the evidence that the practice of cover pricing was widespread.

The Office of Government Commerce yesterday released guidance to clients recommending contractors found guilty of cover pricing were not automatically excluded from future tenders. Several clients have since come out to insist their procurement processes reduce the risk of cover pricing.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “The Highways Agency procurement processes align with OGC guidance to control the risk of anti-competitive behaviour.

“There is no evidence from this investigation to suggest any anti-competitive practices in respect of Highways Agency contracts.

“The Highways Agency notes the findings of the OFT investigation and the recommendations from both OFT and OGC.”