Guidance

Become a Highways Agency supplier

Contract opportunities, prequalification processes and supplier expectations.

Contract opportunities

Search for opportunities with the Highways Agency on Contracts Finder

For larger contracts the Highways Agency also publishes a contract notice in Tenders Electronic Daily.

The Highways Agency use their own framework or the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) framework agreements.

The Highways Agency does not charge a tender fee for any contract opportunities. Most Highways Agency procurement comes through framework contracts, or indirectly through major schemes and maintenance arrangements. The Highways Agency does not use an approved supplier list.

Terms and conditions

Model contract documents are provided to suppliers as a guide only. Specific contract documentation can differ from model contract documents and is issued by the procurement officer at the tender stage.

View Highways Agency model contract documents.

Pre-qualification process

If you are a potential supplier, you will need to go through a pre-qualification process before being invited to tender for Highways Agency contracts. This applies to those who wish to contract directly with the Highways Agency - either individually or as part of a joint venture or partnership.

Pre-qualification criteria are specific to each contract. The High­ways Agency has three pre-qualification routes:

  • full pre-qualification questionnaire for works con­tracts high in value and high risk; aligned to the revised PAS91 — 2013
  • mini pre-qualification questionnaire for works con­tracts for works con­tracts lower in value and classed as lower risk; aligned to the revised PAS91 — 2013
  • core pre-qualification questionniare for goods and ser­vices con­tracts; based on the Cab­i­net Office core questionnaire man­dated for use as stated in Pro­cure­ment pol­icy note 01/12: use of pre-qualification questionnaires.

All pre-qualification questionnaires test the fol­low­ing cri­te­ria if rel­e­vant to the con­tract and in a way that is pro­por­tion­ate to the contract requirements:

  • cri­te­ria for the rejec­tion of eco­nomic operators
  • eco­nomic and finan­cial standing
  • tech­ni­cal or pro­fes­sional ability

The con­tract notice will give details of who to con­tact for the con­tract spe­cific pre-qualification pack and fur­ther details about any spe­cific require­ments being used in the pack

View the Highways Agency’s procurement pre-qualification pack on the National Archive.

Strategic Alignment Review Tool (StART)

The Highways Agency uses StART in the pre-qualification process for certain high-value contracts. These tend to be larger value, major projects such as Managing Agents Contracts or Technology Maintenance Contracts. The StART assessment helps both the Highways Agency and service supply companies by:

  • identifying business strengths and areas for development that are essential to perform a wide range of work
  • ensuring companies know what is required to complete Highways Agency contracts

Contract notices state when the StART process will be applied and how to apply for a contract without an existing assessment and StART score. Many suppliers for larger contracts have already been through the process and received a StART score. The StART process is regularly reviewed and suppliers will be reassessed periodically.

The StART Assessment Guide

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request a different format.

If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

StART Frequently Asked Questions

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If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

National Highways Sector Scheme accreditation and health and safety certification

The Highways Agency requires all suppliers to employ fully qualified and registered operatives, with relevant National Highway Sector Schemes (NHSS) registration/skills cards. The Highways Agency usually also require contractors and sub-contractors to attend NHSS. See skills card and registration requirements for suppliers of the Highways Agency.

Health and safety assessments

When you apply for a Highways Agency contract, the Highways Agency will assess health and safety information as part of their pre-qualification process.

If your business will tender for contracts frequently, it’s sensible to have a valid Highways Agency Health and Safety Assessment Certificate. Otherwise you’ll have to provide evidence of your policies and records and complete the health and safety questionnaire every time you tender. Sometimes you will need to hold this certificate before you can be invited to tender for a contract. Even if the certificate is not a mandatory requirement, having one will satisfy the health and safety requirements for any contract.

Before you can receive a certificate, the Highways Agency will assess the effectiveness of the integration of your safety management system into your organisation. The assessment is carried out annually using the Highways Agency Health and Safety Assessment model (PDF, 99.5KB, 35 pages) .

Expectations for suppliers

In order to become a supplier of goods and services to the Highways Agency, you must compete against other businesses for the contract, except when competition is unnecessary - eg in a monopoly supply situation

The Highways Agency selects suppliers who:

  • represent value for money
  • can deliver on time and to cost
  • work hard to maintain Highways Agency reputation and standards

The Highways Agency will expect all their suppliers to:

  • be as transparent as possible
  • avoid all links to fraud or conflict of interest in their business and supply chain
  • support Highways Agency goals and values and focus on achieving customer satisfaction in terms of safe roads, reliable journeys and informed travellers
  • be able to deliver the level of quality needed
  • provide a fair and equal workplace and fight bullying and discrimination
  • deliver year-on-year efficiency
  • manage and deliver their own performance to all aspects of the contract, addressing issues before Highways Agency measurement and intervention
  • adhere to all appropriate legislation, including data protection obligations

The Highways Agency uses procurement to support government sustainability priorities and to monitor supplier response. The Highways Agency and their suppliers must consider:

  • sustainable consumption and production
  • climate change
  • natural resources
  • sustainable communities

Working with the Highways Agency can benefit your business. They will work with you and other organisations, such as local authorities:

  • to develop innovative and lean ways of working, making use of technology and improving performance
  • to follow fair and prompt payment initiatives

The Highways Agency will promote the benefits of a diverse and competitive supply chain and engage with suppliers over opportunities for improving capability, capacity and expertise.

This will include:

  • gathering market intelligence and encouraging competition
  • engaging and developing supplier relationships through regular communications and meetings
  • exploring new market opportunities
  • consulting with industry on new initiatives, managing standards and offering opportunities to a diverse supply base and new suppliers
  • maintaining regular face-to-face dialogue with strategic partners

Performance measurement

The Highways Agency monitors and manages supplier performance through a performance management framework. This framework provides the Agency with a standard approach to capturing performance data in order to achieve:

  • visibility of service provider performance
  • consistency in the data captured on service provider performance
  • benchmarking of service provider performance results

A full catalogue of guidance documents and manuals are available on our Supply Chain Portal. You can request access by contacting supply chain communications.

How a supplier is selected for award of a contract

The Highways Agency assessment of tenders is carried out in three stages:

  • a panel will judge the content of the quality tender submission
  • we verify the quality submission and financial information
  • we validate the prices and availability of key people

The exact requirements of each contract are set out in the tender documents provided by the Highways Agency, and you will be given the opportunity for debriefing at the end of the tender selection process.