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Carillion and Highways Agency fall out over CAT score

CONTRACTOR CARILLION was this week at the centre of a row with the Highways Agency over the Capability Assessment Toolkit (CAT) used by the Agency to assess its suppliers.

The pair are understood to be 'in discussions' after Carillion scored just 165.5 out of a possible 288 in the Agency's independently audited assessment.

This puts it 27th out of the 33 consultants and contractors assessed, and theoretically should bar it from winning future work.

The CAT makes up about 50% of the Agency's prequalication assessment and a score based on past performance information makes up the other half.

NCE understands that several ms challenged their scores, but the Agency is standing by its results. 'We did not change our scores from the initial assessment. There were scores we had discussion over, but we did not change them, ' said a spokesman.

Other contractors expressed doubts over whether the Agency would stand bar one of its biggest suppliers. In the past ve years Carillion has delivered 10 major Agency contracts. Only Balfour Beatty - which topped the CAT with 187.2 - has delivered more (see table).

The Agency said it would not rule Carillion out from future contracts based on its score. 'The CAT is one part of the process. No rm can be completely ruled out on the basis of its CAT score, ' said a spokesman.

One high-scoring contractor said: 'The top tier should be getting the lion's share of the work. If its systems are that bad Carillion shouldn't be getting any work. But we all know that Balfour Beatty and Carillion will continue to get the lion's share of the big jobs. It stinks.' Contractors and consultants will bid for three Maintenance Area Contract frameworks up for renewal this year: areas three, six and eight.

Carillion is understood to have thrown out the Agency's assessors in a debrief, accusing them of having 'preconceived ideas' and 'making no attempt to understand how the company actually works'. The company only discovered its actual score some weeks later.

The dispute is understood to centre around Carillion's recent purchase of Mowlem. To score well in the CAT system, companies have to be able to demonstrate that they can offer a consistent level of service across all parts of the company.

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