Highways design work bundled up to cut bid costs

Consultants will get opportunity to bid for regional packages of highways design work through remaining phases of Highways England's project control framework (PCF), instead of secondary bidding project-by-project, Infrastructure Intelligence has learnt.

The PCF is the system used by the HE for awarding professional services contracts for the eight different stages of projects, from formulation of options through to detailed design. The PCF is used for the three separate project programmes of Complex Infrastructure, Smart Motorway and the Regional Investment Programme, but only the last of these is procured regionally and, up until now, just for stages one and two.

Following on from appointment of 10 consultants to the Collaborative Delivery Framework (CDF) – the contract framework used for appointing consultants to Smart Motorway and the Regional Investment Programme, firms have repeatedly complained about the high cost of secondary bidding on an individual project by project basis – after having spent a lot of time and large sums bidding for places on the CDF from 2013-2014.

Professional services for the remaining phases of all projects of the Regional Investment Programme will be procured as portfolios of contracts within six regions in England.

A spokesman for Highways England said: “It is important that we engage with and listen to our suppliers so that wherever possible we can improve working practices, deliver further efficiencies and provide greater value for money. Suppliers involved in the Collaborative Delivery Framework expressed concerns about the volume of secondary competitions and we have been working together with them to explore solutions to address their concerns.”

A director of one of the HE's CDF consultants said the HE's latest development in procurement of major projects design work is the result of a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between the HE and its supplier network.

The HE is currently consulting with its supplier network on the successor to the CDF, Routes to Market, which will cover design of major projects from 2017-2021, according to industry sources. Firms will learn more about the HE's plans for that framework at an industry engagement meeting this week.

"Our preferred method of procurement for that would be a national framework without secondary bidding, with companies appointed as and where they are best suited, as it was done through the previous PSF (Professional Services Framework)," the director of one CDF consultant said. "Any reduction in secondary bidding is welcome, because the amount of further bid work we've had to do through the CDF has been rediculous."

Companies on the Professional Design and Engineering Services Lot of the CDF:






CH2M Hill


Mott MacDonald Sweco Joint Venture


WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff