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Highways contractors begin month of scrutiny as new generation CAT assessments begin

Highways Agency auditors have this week begun the assessment process of contractors for its new generation on capability assessments for major projects and maintenance contracts.

The new StART system will replace the old CAT rating system, which ranked firms on the basis of their corporate culture.

The StART – Strategic Alignment ReviewToolkit – is built around driving supply chain alignment in five critical areas.

Firms are being audited on leadership, supply chain management, cost, inclusion and sustainability.

Day long assessment visits by Agency staff are taking place throughout February and March.

Scores will be moderated and a published by the end of March.

The results of StART will be applied to high value major projects and future maintenance contracts.

In future a scaled down version of StART will be built into the pre-qualification process on lower value contracts.

StART scores could influence joint venture pairings. Where firms are bidding in joint ventures they will be assessed individually and the average of their scores used for short-listing in the prequalification process.

The contractor’s designer on a major project will not be required to have a StART score.

The Highways Agency said it has worked in close collaboration with representatives of the construction and highway maintenance industry at how best to bring CAT up to date.

It said StART is built around assessing and driving supply chain alignment and recognises existing tools that already test other key areas.

But it makes no secret that cost reduction is a driving force behind the new toolkit.

“We, in common with all government departments, face the continuing challenge of delivering our targets for less,” read the toolkit instructions.

“We therefore need our key suppliers to mobilise all their talents and resources to deliver smarter and more efficient ways of working, for example through collaborations, innovations and lean process improvements.

“Show us what you do to support this principle, how you know that it works, and what you do to maximise its value.”

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