Procurement at Highways England

Supplying goods and services to Highways England

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Our approach

At Highways England we work closely with partners and contractors to ensure their road network is safe, efficient and meets the needs of road users. Find out about the aims, objectives and values of Highways England.

We work with suppliers to meet the challenge of delivering the Road Investment Strategy through sound investment, performance improvement and transforming road user experience through operation of the strategic road network.

We do this by building relationships, developing capability and improving performance and efficiency through innovation and lean techniques.

The Contracts Activity Pipeline gives visibility of our procurement intention and commercial approach over Road Period Two 2020-2025. The Contracts Activity Datasheet will be updated regularly though the Road Period and details the procurement stages for all current, planned and completed activity. The data spreadsheet covers not only road schemes but also professional services and enables filtering by contract type, value and various key dates.

Both documents can be found on the corporate documents page of the Highways England website.

What Highways England buys

Highways England buys goods and services in six main areas:

  • consultancy - both technical and civil engineering
  • highways improvement
  • highways maintenance
  • traffic technology
  • audit - such as audit assurance and advice
  • vehicles and uniforms eg for the traffic officer service

The many areas of the traffic officer service are provided through different agreements and contracts:

  • a framework agreement - uniforms, training
  • a bespoke contract - the maintenance and washing of uniforms
  • recruitment contracts - for both the recruitment of permanent members of the traffic officer service and temporary operators for the regional control centres
  • fixed contract, following Official Journal of the European Union procedure - an audio magazine and translation service

The majority of Highways England spending on maintaining the road network is controlled by long term contracts. There may also be opportunities for suppliers to provide services as subcontractors to the principal suppliers.

Highways England uses many types of contract. Past contracts have included:

  • Early Contractor Involvement contracts, for projects which benefit from input by a contractor prior to submission to the planning process
  • design and build contracts
  • Managing Agent Contractor (MAC) contracts and Asset Support contracts – these are used for maintaining, operating and improving Highways England’s network
  • TechMACs – used to cover the maintenance of technology
  • private finance contracts (known as Design, Build, Finance, Operate or DBFO)
  • frameworks contracts

Consultancy

Consultancy services are provided to Highways England through framework arrangements, such as:

  • the Project Support Framework - for civil engineering consultancy advice, specialist surveys, contract facilitation, statistical analysis and contract development
  • the National Technical Consultancy Framework - for geotechnics, pavement engineering, environmental operations, traffic appraisal and quantity surveying
  • the Technology Consultancy Framework - for advice and support to Highways England traffic technology team

If you are awarded a consultancy contract, there are various restrictions on what related contracts you can apply for.

  • a supplier engaged in collecting data for a proposed contract is excluded from tendering for that contract, except when providing information on a current maintenance contract
  • a supplier assisting with the compilation of contract documents, or in any part of the tender assessment process, is excluded from tendering for that contract
  • a supplier with exclusive access to material that would give them an unfair advantage in tendering for other contracts is excluded from tendering for any contract
  • a supplier not tendering for a contract, but who assists in any way with the tender assessment process, will operate under the control of the procurement officer and is not permitted access to sensitive information from any tender submission
  • direct employees or associates from a tendering supplier, engaged on short-term assignments, are excluded from work which requires judgment to be exercised in cases that could potentially be of advantage to their employer

Highways England supplier payment policy

It is Highways England’s policy to use project bank accounts for all contracts awarded post October 2011 unless there is a compelling reason not to do so. This is in line with the government’s fair payment agenda. Exceptions for NEC contracts exceeding £5 million will be extremely unusual and will need to be supported by a business case.

The main contractor is responsible for ensuring that these procedures are reflected in contracts across their supply chain. They must also ensure that assessment periods are aligned with that of the head (client) contract. A non-compliance (whistle blowing) reporting process has been set up by the Cabinet Office.

Supplier recognition

The Highways England Awards are designed to recognise people in both our company and our supply chain who have achieved outstanding results in the safety, customer experience and delivery of our network

The winners will reflect the very best in our sector and demonstrate the highest standards for our industry. The judges will look for nominations that demonstrate clear outcomes and benefits and how these have been evaluated against success. There are 14 categories to choose from, and our Chairman will make his selection from all the winners to select the recipient of the Chairman’s Award.

We invite applications from all Highways England employees, our suppliers and their supply chain (including extended supply chain, small and medium enterprises, etc).

A complete listing of our winning and highly commended submissions from the 2019 awards is available on the Highways England website.

External awards

Highways England encourages project leaders to consider projects or suppliers for entry for existing awards run by external organisations. This can include second and third tier suppliers as well as our primary contractors. If you work on behalf of Highways England and want to put your project forward for an award, contact your regional Communications Manager who will arrange the necessary approvals. Highways England will highlight successes through the media and other channels.

Industry Advisory Group (IAG)

The Industry Advisory Group (IAG) acts as a liaison point between Highways England and their suppliers. It provides ad hoc consultation and advice and comprises representatives from Highways England, members of their supplier base and independent consultants. Four sub-groups examine specific areas in more detail:

  • sustainable development
  • diversity
  • StART
  • performance measurement

Other sub-groups can be set up as needed. For further information contact the Strategic Supplier Development (SSD) team

Further information

Become a Highways England supplier

Highways England customer contact centre 0300 123 5000