CONSULTANTS THIS week accused the Government of giving them too little time to bid for its £30M programme of transport studies.
They also said they were confused about the amount of information they were expected to provide in support of bids.
The studies are supposed to be the most fundamental rethink of transport strategy for 25 years and form one of the mainstays of the Integrated Transport White Paper.
But consultants say the Government risks wasting its money because of the speed at which it is procuring the work, the large number of companies on tender lists and uncertainty over the level at which they are to be pitched.
The first tranche of 11 studies is due to be awarded by the end of October. Consultants are tendering for the work in consortia because of the size of the contracts, which are understood to vary in value between £350,000 and £1.5M.
But companies have been given just three and a half to five weeks to tender and between six and eight consortia are being asked to bid for each study. Mouchel director of transportation Bill Wyley described the short tender time as 'absolutely crazy'.
Bids will be submitted to panels including representatives of local authorities, transport operators and regional development agencies.
Mott MacDonald director of transportation Richard Davies said this made it 'difficult to judge' the amount of detail the studies should provide.
He warned that quality of the bids and the studies themselves could suffer as a result.
'The price variation for each study could be enormous. Even with a very heavy weighting on quality in the way the bids are selected it will be difficult to close the gap if one consortium has taken a minimalistic approach,' he warned.
A spokesman for the DETR said the studies were being procured in line with European Community regulations.
'This makes it a level playing field for companies across Europe. If consultants don't like the terms of the tenders then they don't have to apply,' he said.