HIGHWAYS MAINTENANCE contractors are squeezing their supply chains for cost savings rather than encouraging them to innovate, Highways Agency procurement director Steve Rowsell said last week.
'We are not seeing enough total supply chain involvement, ' he said, pointing out that 70% of the Highways Agency's scheme costs went to specialists.
The Agency plans to extend the use of construction management framework contracts currently being trialled in the West Midlands and the North West - areas 9 and 10 of the network.
Under construction management the Agency signs direct contracts with specialist firms and appoints construction management fi ms to manage the work.
So far the pilot has avoided disputes, brought down construction costs and fostered strong partnering arrangements.
'The framework in areas 9 and 10 has demonstrated the value of engaging experts, ' said Rowsell. 'They are coming up with radically different solutions.' Construction management also has the advantage of allowing the Agency to make direct payments to specialists, rather than relying on main contractors to pay them.
Rowsell said some main contractors were guilty of paying their sub-contractors late and said he wanted to stamp out this practice.
'I am still seeing suppliers wait 100 to 120 days for payment. This is unacceptable, ' he said.