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 EnglandвЂ™s motorways and trunk roads.ADVERTISEMENT
However, the report identified shortcomings in the way the HA manages these contracts. It said: вЂњThe 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.вЂќ
It said the HA is only just beginning to establish unit costs of items within jobs, so it can challenge contractorsвЂ™ 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.
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