THE HIGHWAYS Agency is urging contractors to show hard evidence to support their tenders if they are to scoop the industry's top civil engineering deals.
The challenge came during an HA seminar on the Early Contractor Involvement model in London last week, attended by more than 100 of the industry's estimators and business development managers.
Under the ECI method - to be used on all future schemes - tenders will be assessed in two parts.
Part A analyses bids under the HA's six Key Performance Indicators.Part B relates to evidence to support these claims.
Peter Higgins, director of PdConsult and part of the team that drew up the ECI model, said: 'Once you've told us what your approach is, you must provide verifiable statements based on evidence to support that approach.
'This includes statements to support your build-up of the fee and your assessment of the project risk. If your price is not supported, the tender will simply be rejected.'
Contractors were also told that there was more highways work in the offing over the course of the financial year.
The reassurance came as the Highways Agency denied that a recent spate of scheme awards and adverts would result in a baron spell for new projects.
Since ECI started in May 2001,20 such contracts have been awarded, while seven are due for completion during 2004-05, with work starting on eight more.
But the agency announced a commitment to 13 ECI projects in total for the period 2004-05.The schemes will be helped, in part, by the Government's 10-year spending review, which saw an increase of 4.5 per cent in the Department for Transport's budget.
The agency's procurement director, Steve Rowsell, said: 'In broad terms the settlement for roads will match the level of spending set out in the 10-year plan.'
The meeting also outlined new plans for bonus payments to contractors which successfully finish schemes under budget.At the design stage, firms which forecast a fee below the price budgeted will receive 25 per cent of that saving, while a final bonus of 25 per cent of the total saving is also in the offing.