The purpose of the workshop was to consider the different term maintenance contract models that local highway authorities are currently operating. Outputs sought from the workshop included:
- The drivers that led to a model being chosen
- What is working well
- What local highway authorities would like to work better
- Measures that have been taken to improve contract performance.
The finding from the initial work that there was no common trend of movement in term maintenance contract models between greater integration and outsourcing (towards the PFI model for example) and greater direct provision and insourcing (towards a in-house client, design and DLO for example).
Key issues raised included:
- Concern that where a supplier arrangement that is performing very well its continuation is limited by the constraints of the original procurement, whereas options for a client to extend the arrangement would be useful where it could be demonstrated that service quality is likely to be better maintained. This could potentially avoid or reduce re-procurement costs.
- Whilst many councils are considering in-sourcing of a greater knowledge of their assets, greater control of decision making and greater ownership of customer responses there is little appetite to recreate DLO where these have not operated for more than 1 procurement cycle due.
- The HMEP Standard form of contract and common specification are considered to be extremely valuable tools and starting points for the sector and there is concern that their maintenance and updating is undertaken and available without charge as per the HMEP intention.
Several proposed asks of DfT by Engineering Board were proposed:
- That the HMEP standard form of contract and standard specification hosting is reviewed to ensure its ongoing availability to local highway authorities
- Continued support for local highway authority long term funding arrangements and extending this to influence revenue funding levels
- Provide ADEPT Engineering Board with an early visibility of post-EU changes to procurement laws affecting the sector.