Project Description


During the last decades there has been increased political pressure in advanced industrialized countries on National Road Agencies (NRA’s) to rethink and alter their service provision. NRA’s are forced to achieve more public value with fewer resources, both in budget and number of staff. Most NRA’s have responded by extending the involvement of the private sector in the provision of various road works and management services. At the same time, both NRA’s and private sector lost key competences by retirement of staff and the increased rotation rate of younger personnel. The loss of competences from both outsourcing of maintenance services and staff replacement poses a serious threat to the effectiveness and efficiency of maintenance. NRA’s are raising questions such as:


What are the lessons learnt and best practices in dealing with outsourcing of maintenance services and staff replacement?


What new competences and knowledge do we need in dealing with outsourcing of maintenance services and staff replacement?


What are emerging risks from outsourcing of services and staff replacement, and how can we deal with these risks?


What are emerging risks from changes in external social, technological, political and environmental factors, and how can we deal with these risks?


How should we share risks between NRA and contractors, and how does risk sharing and management affect the behaviour of contractors in the procurement process?


How does the outsourcing of services and staff replacement affect the efficiency of maintenance and replacement operations? How can we prevent loss of efficiency?


What indicators and benchmarks can we use to compare our national practice to?

In finding answers to these questions NRA’s are following different procurement strategies that vary in the kind of works and services integrated in maintenance contracts, the duration and management of the contracts, the criteria for tendering the maintenance work, or the payment mechanism. For example, in the UK all maintenance, delivery of schemes, the design and management of improvement schemes, incident management, event management and contingency planning for different assets of a road network are integrated in one contract, whereas in the Netherlands separate contracts for maintenance and improvement schemes and for different assets are in place. A main challenge for NRA’s lies in the definition of procurement strategies that are able to set incentives for the contractor and allocate risks between NRA and contractor in a way that the desired level of maintenance efficiency is achieved. This also implies that the NRA’s need to develop new competences for the implementation of defined strategies which in the light of the large turnover of personnel in the road maintenance sector represents an enormous challenge.

There is comprehensive procurement knowledge and experiences present among NRA’s, but it is scattered and not readily available to other NRA’s. In order to learn from best practices, knowledge and experiences need to be structured, combined with academic knowledge, and made available as framework and tools for hands-on application at NRA’s. The BEST4ROAD project addresses the current procurement challenges and questions of NRA’s and provides evidence based, hands-on guidance to NRA’s on formulating and implementing efficient and effective maintenance procurement strategies.


Objectives and Results

The main objective of the BEST4ROAD project is the development of best practice guidelines and tools for the efficient procurement of road maintenance in a changing world. The project will support NRA’s in coping with current challenges and preparing for future challenges by:

· Study and compare current maintenance procurement practices in 11 countries (Netherlands, Belgium-Flanders, Germany, Austria, UK, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, US, Australia),

· Describe commonalities and differences in maintenance procurement practices in the different countries and determine lessons learnt,

· Develop maintenance procurement strategies NRA’s can follow depending on their own context and expected future trends,

· Identify the driving factors (e.g. network characteristics, policy, climate) for maintenance procurement practices in the different countries,

· Determine the effects of maintenance procurement practices on road quality and maintenance costs,

· Identify the risks associated with current maintenance procurement practices and how they are managed,

· Determine the competence profiles needed for specific maintenance procurement practices,

· Describe transition processes NRA’s should follow when changing their procurement strategies.

The BEST4ROAD project will produce a number of results of immediate benefit to NRA’s:

· A cross-country comparison of current maintenance procurement practices with lessons learnt, and an easy to follow methodological framework to update these comparisons periodically,

· A set of maintenance procurement strategies including their effects on maintenance efficiency,

· An evaluation tool for assessing the effects of procurement strategies on maintenance efficiency,

· A serious game Road Roles 2.0 that will give NRA’s insight in the strategic behaviour of contractors and the effects on network condition as a result of policy changes at the NRA,

· A quick scan method for risks related to maintenance procurement strategies and measures to manage them,

· Competence profiles that are required to follow different maintenance procurement strategies,

· A step-by-step guideline for changing maintenance procurement strategies,

· Case examples demonstrating the implementation of maintenance procurement strategies,

· Best practice guidelines that recommend maintenance procurement strategies, competence profiles and transition processes depending on current and future social, organisational, political and environmental drivers.

These best practice guidelines and tools will allow NRA’s the assessment of different maintenance procurement strategies in terms of their effectiveness (road quality), efficiency (maintenance costs) and risks. They furthermore will facilitate the implementation of strategies at NRA’s considering the required competences and transition processes.