Highways England Considering Changes to £7bn Routes to Market Framework

Highways England is mulling several changes to its work procurement methods as part of its £7 billion Routes to Market framework.

Jim O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of Highways England, said that the body was in the process of consulting with contractors regarding the structure of the framework and that several changes were being considered.

Among the potential changes is the procurement of major road projects away from the framework.

O’Sullivan said that the scale and size of schemes such as the A303 tunnel and Lower Thames Crossing made it a clear step for the organisation to take.

He also confirmed that there is a high possibility of mini-bids being scrapped and replaced with a system of allocation based on the successful delivery of previous jobs.

O’Sullivan explained: “If you deliver the last job to budget, to quality and to time, then we will try to roll it on to the next job.

“If you are in a particular lot, then we will simply allocate the next job to the most successful contractor or team.”

He also said that Highways England was looking at new methods of dividing the Routes to Market framework and was eager to add more flexibility to the lots.

Its existing Collaborative Delivery Framework is divided lots organised by project value, with the smallest covering work up to and including £25 million and the highest comprising projects between £100 million and £450 million.

Mr O’Sullivan said the organisation was reviewing whether lots based strictly on project values was the most efficient way to move forward.

“We recognise that it is not a straight line correlation between complexity and size; a smaller complex project may find itself in the wrong lot if you are working on the basis of capital value,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

He added that there had also been situations on the current framework where five £20m projects, which could have been procured as a £100 million job, were instead divided between contractors across different lots.


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BDC 301 February 2023