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'Fundamentally new approach' to Highways Agency maintenance to give contractors more freedom

The Highways Agency has revealed a new form of maintenance contract expected to give contractors more freedom to decide how projects are delivered.

The Asset Support Contract will replace the Managing Agent Contractor contracts, which currently form the basis of service delivery on most parts of the road network, as part of the government’s drive to cut spending.

At an industry event today, the Highways Agency announced maintenance standards are to be ‘outcome based’ and less prescriptive on how they are delivered, giving contractors more freedom to choose how they operate.

The Highways Agency said the changes are expected to deliver substantial savings by incentivising innovation and efficiencies by offering contract extensions.

Other features include:

  • Pricing mechanisms will be simplified with a schedule of rates and a ‘year on year’ cost reduction mechanism.
  • Centralised procurement of high volume sub tier items at the best cost.
  • Technology maintenance, and technology schemes up to the providers’ work threshold, will also be managed through the Asset Support Contract, leading to more efficient and joined up delivery.
  • Project bank accounts will provide a quicker way of paying the supply chain.

Highways Agency procurement director David Poole, said: “This is not a case of introducing changes and improvements to the existing contract, rather it is a fundamentally new approach to how we manage the strategic road network.

“Today’s meeting was about getting that message out to our suppliers now, so that they understand what we will be looking for in awarding contracts in future. It gives them a platform from which to drive innovation and efficiencies and will lead to contracts which reward capable suppliers who deliver appropriate quality, responding to new standards and ways of working, at significantly reduced cost.”

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