National Infrastructure Commission releases procurement assessment tool

01/08/2019
Dominic Browne

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has released an updated framework to support a cost benefit analysis of different private finance and traditional procurement models.

Following the pilot trial that analysed five road schemes, the NIC refined its analytical tool, which it had released as part of its National Infrastructure Assessment.

This is an early stage of a long-term project to improve national infrastructure procurement and ensure that government selection of infrastructure procurement models is made with a robust consideration of broader factors beyond cost.

The work is intended to develop a tool for public bodies to analyse the costs and benefits of financing and procurement models as well as project appraisal decisions, taking into account whole-life and wider social impact factors.

'The lack of a strong evidence base on infrastructure procurements has led to the focus on a single measure of performance, usually short-run cost. Long term value for money and consideration of whole life factors in selecting procurement strategy needs to be the priority in future,' the report said.

'Using different procurement models where they are best suited should ensure that government can maximise the benefits from infrastructure. The National Infrastructure Commission’s analytical framework is designed to develop insights into the merits and shortcomings of procurement models.'

The framework takes into account factors including:

  • asset build quality and condition
  • quality of service
  • wider outcomes, including social and environmental factors.

Proposed areas for refinement emerging from discussion of the pilot findings are:

  • inclusion of the project objectives as a dimension of the framework. This provides the base case against which a project’s outputs and outcomes are evaluated. 
  • providing explanatory notes to dimensions of the framework and recognising that operations phase activities will be impacted by sector specific characteristics
  • retaining the ‘Wider outcomes’ dimension in view of growing interest in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) outcomes despite this being one of the areas where lack of data limited analysis.

The NIC said it was not yet possible to draw firm conclusions on the pros and cons of different procurement models pros as a result of the initial study as a larger sample size was needed.

The research project also found that major data gaps in the public sector 'traditional procurement' projects also hampered the study.

As a result of the limits to the data, the document states: 'The Commission’s second objective of developing a robust evidence base of costs and benefits of private financing and traditional procurement using roads projects is not realistic in the short term.'

These data gaps were partly explained 'by the age of some of the projects selected for the pilot' and the fact that 'data may be held at the portfolio level (national or regional) making it difficult to access project level data'.

Better data was available on the private financed schemes, influenced by the contract provisions for monitoring and reporting.

However, the analytical work highlights areas for future improvement on these projects such as the availability of data on outturn construction costs. Generally, this data is not shared with the public procurer, a reflection of the risk transfer relationship.

NIC Chair Sir John Armitt said: 'Thirty years ago, the UK led the way in infrastructure financing and with PFI and PF2 off the table, recapturing that innovative spirit is vital. But without an objective way to determine value, officials risk making decisions with one hand tied behind their back.

'Transforming the nation’s infrastructure means mobilising private sector investment alongside that of government. It’s imperative we develop the tools to make better decisions about what works and what doesn’t and address existing concerns about the use of private finance.

'This framework encourages the public sector to view data differently and ask the right questions to get the best taxpayer deal, whatever the procurement model.'

The pilot commenced in Autumn 2018 looking at five projects managed by Highways England (three delivered by private financing and two by traditional procurement). The Highways England roads projects used in the framework pilot evaluation were:

  • A419/417 Swindon to Gloucester
  • M1/A1 Bramham to Lofthouse Link
  • A1 Darrington to Dishforth
  • A1 Dishforth to Leeming
  • A43 Improvements

'The findings from the pilot support the recommendation the Commission made in the Assessment for collection of data on project costs and performance at each appraisal stage and on project completion. Where this data is reported at the portfolio level, there is a case for data management systems to be designed in a way that allows project and asset level data to be accessed easily.'

The commission now plans to explore the framework further in other areas of infrastructure.

Previous analyses in this area had only looked at construction costs rather than wider, more long-term results.   

Despite the current ban on new PFI and PF2 schemes, not all the UK’s future infrastructure pipeline will be delivered by public financing.

At least 30% of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority’s infrastructure pipeline to 2028 will be delivered by privately financed investment, and 15% by the regulated utilities, the NIC said.

Highways jobs

Environmental Improvement Officer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£29,636 - £33,799 per annum
We have an exciting opportunity to recruit to the position of Environmental Improvement Officer within Regulatory Services. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Legal Officer - Planning and Highways

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£26,999 - £29,636
Kirklees Legal Services is one of the largest legal practices in the area and carries out and commissions legal work required by the Council Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Environmental Cleansing Operative

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£20.466 - £20.835
This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a dynamic team of staff responsible for the cleanliness and general maintenance of a wide range of... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Road Safety Engineer / Road Safety Auditor (all levels of experience)

TMS Consultancy
By negotiation
Purpose of the Job Depending on individual experience, candidates will be involved in a range of road safety engineering and traffic management pro... Coventry
Recruiter: TMS Consultancy

Senior Technical Officer

Newport City Council
£30,507 - £33,799
We are pleased to be seeking individuals to fill a new Senior Technical Officer post within Highways.    Newport (Casnewydd)
Recruiter: Newport City Council

Senior Technical Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£24,799 - £29,636
The successful candidate will feed into the planning process, assessing applications in accordance with the... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Technical Support Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£21.591 - £25.809
Using your administrative and communication skills to the full, you’ll provide invaluable support across our busy Directorate.  Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Assistant Tree Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£25,880 - £27,904
Looking for an assistant tree officer to join a busy Tree Section working with the most up to date arboriculture equipment’s and IT resources.   Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Contract Monitoring Officer (Streets and Grounds)

Wiltshire Council
£24,313 - £26,317 per annum
This is an interesting and varied role involving inspecting and monitoring the condition of the highway Wiltshire
Recruiter: Wiltshire Council

Green Space Partnership Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£30,066 - £34,538
You will have excellent written and presentation skills including experience of preparation of reports, briefings, minutes of meetings and... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Sustainability Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£33,122 - £38,423
Looking for two Sustainability Officers to work across the Sustainability, Air Quality and Energy team to create, manage and... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Parking Projects Manager

Brent Council
£45,585 - £48,482 p.a. inc.
As Parking Projects Manager, you will be responsible for leading the delivery, to time and budget, of key parking projects... Wembley, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Parking Operations Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £21,166
Are you a hard-working individual, who enjoys working outdoors in all weather conditions? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Team Leader (Local Plan)

City of Bradford MDC
£40,760 - £43,662 pa
The post requires a degree and eligible to be a corporate member of Royal Town Planning Institute and NVQ Level 5 in Management or... Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of Bradford MDC

Team Leader (Infrastructure & Local Plan Implementation)

City of Bradford MDC
£42,683 pa - £45,591 pa
The Post provides an exciting opportunity to manage a multidisciplinary team of professionals leading on Transport planning and Local Plan Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of Bradford MDC

Environmental Health Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£32,473 - £42,490
Seeking Environmental Health Officers to contribute towards delivering the project objectives of addressing rogue landlords and... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Neighbourhood Highway Engineer

Devon County Council
£36,876 to £40,760 per annum
Seeking an experienced highway engineer with extensive knowledge of highway maintenance and traffic management to... Devon
Recruiter: Devon County Council

Road Safety and Sustainable Transport Assistant

Telford & Wrekin Council
SCP 13-17 - £11.41 - £12.35
Exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Highways, Transport & Engineering, Road Safety & Sustainable Transport Team. Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Project Assistant

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£26,999 - £29,636
Looking for an additional team member to support the Senior Environmental Health Officers in undertaking complex Air Quality Improvement Projects... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Principal Road Safety Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£42684 - £45585 per annum
We are looking a fantastic new road safety expert to lead our high performing and innovative Road Safety Team.The Royal Borough of Greenwich is commit England, London, Woolwich
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Highways on Fridays

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue
  • Highways England at Westminster
  • Traffex Scotland and Bridges Scotland guide
  • Highways Awards winners
View the latest issue

Latest Video