Saturday, October 17, 2009

Highways maintenance costs rise above inflation

The cost of planned road maintenance has risen by 11% above inflation since the introduction of Managing Agent Contractor (MAC) maintenance contracts, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report.

It estimates road resurfacing accounts for 70% of the increase while the Highways Agency (HA) believes this spend has increased 17% but the NAO said a lack of management information makes precise analysis impossible. It said the HA had not benchmarked the unit costs of tasks such as resurfacing and does not have enough information or analysis of the continuing condition of assets to drive down the whole life costs of planned maintenance.

According to the NAO, the introduction of MACs (which make the contractor responsible for the design and delivery of road maintenance in a defined area for four or five years) in 2001 has led to some improvements in quality and delivery to budget of maintenance on England’s motorways and trunk roads.


Highways maintenance costs rise above inflation


However, the report identified shortcomings in the way the HA manages these contracts. It said: “The Agency has focused on checking that the private companies are complying with the contractual requirements rather than the costs or the quality of the work done.”

It said the HA is only just beginning to establish unit costs of items within jobs, so it can challenge contractors’ costings and establish benchmarks for continuous improvement. The report also highlighted a diminishing number of HA staff with the skills to manage MAC contracts as it has lost more than 50 engineering staff over the past five years and at the time of the review it only had four quantity surveyors.

May Gurney lives up to expectationsSchool fees, health costs cancel fall in other prices