Friday, 3 May 2013

Road repairs Taskforce needs to improve stakeholder engagement satnav

I was mystified this morning, watching Sky Breakfast, when I heard a key member of a new Taskforce to help reduce the cost and disruption of roads repairs had only heard of their membership when a Sky Researcher contacted them yesterday. That beggars belief and makes you wonder how engaged those who set up the Taskforce want stakeholders to be and how open they are to new ideas.

It's not really that big a surprise that so much money is spent making our roads roadworthy when you think of the impact of heavy vehicles, floods and frosts, and the absence of a joined-up approach to utilities. When money is tight, as it is for most councils, what should have been lower long-term planned preventative maintenance frequently shifts to more expensive and less effective short-term reactive repairs.

But the Taskforce focus is to be on the cost and disruption of the utilities companies who have little incentive to focus on long-term cost effective repairs - sub-contract on lowest price, complete the job and get away asap.

Apparently councils have spent £435m over the last two years and 20% of the repairs carried out last year were not of a sufficient quality.  I assume that leads to rework and additional road damage and more claims against councils. Perhaps the Taskforce should ask how the councils can more effectively set and manage a basic quality standard of the repairs based on long-term cost, including performance of the repair over a specified period.

So, one of the key Taskforce members, a representative from the contractors association, stated on Sky that they first heard of their membership from Sky. That's not a good omen. But, given that contractors are involved in the Taskforce, and this is about cost reduction, whole life costs, specification, and contract management - has the contribution of procurement expertise to this discussion even been recognised and are CIPS represented, at the minute that's not easy to establish from the websites!

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