Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Highways Agency evidence to the Environment, Transport & Regional Affairs Committee


  2.1.1  The Highways Agency was established in April 1994. It is responsible for operating, maintaining, and improving the 6,500 mile network of motorways and trunk roads in England, valued at about £65 billion including assets transferred to the Greater London Authority during 2000-01. A map showing the trunk road and motorway network is at Annex A. The agency has an annual budget, in 2000-01, of £1.51 billion including cover for Transport for London for the first 3 months prior to transfer. The first root and branch review of the Agency was completed in July 1999. This confirmed its status as an executive agency.

Strategic Aim

  2.1.2  The July 1998 Transport White Paper, A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone, and the trunk roads review, A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England, redefined the direction of the Agency. Focus has shifted from being a builder and maintainer of the strategic road network roads to encompass the additional responsibility of network operator. Since July 1998, the strategic aim of the Highways Agency has been:

    —  To contribute to sustainable development by maintaining, operating and improving the trunk road network in support of the Government's integrated transport and land use planning policies.


  2.1.3  The aim is under-pinned by the following eight key Ministerial objectives, reflecting that maintenance should have the highest priority, followed by making better use of the existing assets and delivering the Government's targeted programme of investment:

    —  To give priority to the maintenance of trunk roads and bridges with the broad objective of minimising whole life costs.

    —  To develop the role of network operator by implementing traffic management, network communications and other measures aimed at making best use of the existing infrastructure and facilitating integration with other transport modes.

    —  To take action to reduce congestion and increase the reliability of journey times.

    —  To carry out the Government's targeted programme of investment in trunk road improvements.

    —  To minimise the impact of the trunk road network on both the natural and built environment.

    —  To improve safety for all road users and contribute to the Government's new safety strategy and targets for 2010.

    —  To work in partnership with road users, transport providers and operators, local authorities and others affected by agency operations. To promote choice and information for travellers, monitoring and publishing information about the performance and reliability of the network.

    —  To be a good employer, managing the agency's business efficiently and effectively, seeking continuous business improvement.


  2.1.4  Six outcome-based Ministerial Indicators and related targets were agreed to replace the 19 Key Performance Targets set for the Agency in 1999-2000. These are in the Business Plan for 2000-01.

  2.1.5  The publication in July 2000 of Transport 2010: The 10-Year Plan is unlikely to require a change to the aim and objectives of the Agency, as these are consistent with the themes and outcomes covered in that plan. The targets in the 10-Year Plan for such issues as congestion and safety will be reflected in the Agency's performance indicators in future years.

Overview of the Agency Board and Management Structure

  2.1.6  At the start of this financial year the Agency employed a total of 1,707 staff. They are located in the Agency's headquarters in London and its 10 other offices in eight regional locations. A map showing these offices is at Annex B.

  2.1.7  The Highways Agency's Management Board comprises the Chief Executive, five executive directors, and two internal non-executive members. In additional to internal staff the Management Board has an external adviser who is a senior manager in a private sector organisation. The work of the Agency is overseen by the Highways Agency Advisory Board chaired by the DETR Permanent Secretary.

  2.1.8  The Agency is divided into six business areas as follows:

    Network and Customer Services (NCS) acts as network owner and operator, identifying and commissioning bids and programmes of work. They provide the main point of contact with the public and take forward customer service initiatives. They are also the main focal point within the Agency for regional planning, liasing with Government Offices for the Regions, Regional Development Agencies and Local Authorities.

    Project Services (PS) are the Agency's project delivery organisation. They manage day-to-day operations and implement maintenance and network control projects and road improvements. They are responsible for implementing new and better procurement methods and for developing further the partnering approach to project delivery. PS also manage the Agency's land holdings, including the acquisition and disposal of land.

    Quality Services (QS) are responsible for maintaining the Agency's best business practice approach to trunk road management, operation, design and procurement. They are also responsible for the development and management of the Agency's Research and Development Strategy, which encourages innovation and the introduction of new ideas.

    Corporate Services (CS) were established as a separate business in May 2000 to strengthen the Agency's corporate and business planning capabilities. They are also responsible for formulating strategies for the network as a whole and developing public/private partnerships.

    Finance Services (FS) are responsible for the business and financial control of the Agency, including corporate governance, financial and legal propriety, and information technology.

    Human Resource Services (HRS) develop policies and strategies to enable the Agency to secure and retain a motivated workforce with the required competencies. They are also responsible for managing estate and office services.

    Additionally, the Chief Executive's Office (CEO) comprises a small support team, including the Public Relations Department and Internal Audit, reporting directly to the Chief Executive.


Performance 1998-2000

  2.2.1  In 1998/99 the Agency was set 16 Key Performance Targets and met or exceeded 12. In 1999/2000 the Agency was set 19 Key Performance Targets, of which 14 were achieved. The safety target cannot be verified until accident statistics are compiled and validated.

Complete x lane kilometres of surface renewal
Complete x bridge maintenance schemes costing over £200,000
Comply with EU Directive that whole trunk road network is available for use by 40 tonne vehicles
100% by

The Agency will apply financial value management and value engineering guidelines to all national schemes at prescribed stages
Develop jointly with DETR(C) indices of the condition of road pavement suitable for publication
To ensure that there is no material disruption on the network as result of the Millennium Bug by;
Carrying out risk assessment of systems & kit

Having Agency-wide business continuity and contingency plans in place
By end

June 1999

By agreed


Ensure major road works on existing roads are:
No more than 2.5 miles (4 kms) long; and

At least 6 miles (9.6 kms) apart outside

urban areas

Improve on

prior year

Improve on prior year

Ensure percentage of trunk road network having zero residual life at 31/3/2000 is less than figure in 1998 National Road Maintenance Condition Survey

see note 1
Making Better Use of Network
Progress Traffic Control Centre public-private partnership to point of inviting Best and Final Offers

Complete x road schemes costing between £100,000 and £3 million
Complete x network control projects
Complete x local network management schemes each costing less than £3 million
Publish congestion monitoring information including National Road Network Assessment System Maps and Trafficmaster data
See HA



See HA



Ensure accident rates involving personal injury do not exceed x accidents for every 100 million vehicle kilometres of travel


data audit
Complete x safety schemes
Targeted programme of improvements
By end year achieve x% of scheme milestones
Property management
Vacant residential property at end year not to exceed x% of portfolio
Habitable properties empty over 6 months not to exceedx%
Financial performance
Manage programme budget within x% of agreed budget
Manage running costs withinx% of agreed budget
Road Users Charter

To improve performance where achievement levels fell blow that achieved in the previous year

See HA



11 of 13

See HA



11 of 15


see note 2
Submit to Secretary of State revised Road Users Charter


Whitehall Standards

Achieve 5 out of 6 and miss 6th by no more than 10%

6 of 6
Improve on


Review the Agency's environmental reporting requirements and agree necessary changes with DETR. Submit results to Secretary of State by 31/12/1998

Submit by


Agree revised environmental strategy for the Agency in line with the Government's integrated transport policy
Submit by

set date


Achieve x% efficiency/effectiveness targets

(8 of 9)

8 of 9
8 of 9
Continuous Business Improvement

To develop and introduce jointly with DETR(C) a revised set of efficiency targets and indicators


To publish Agency policy and action plan on Greening Government

Attain Investors in People accreditation

Meet key milestones for introducing resource accounting and budgeting


Note 1: Percentage for 1999-2000 calculated using latest knowledge of life pavements.

Note 2: 82.4 per cent of letters answered within 15 days. Prior year 83 per cent. Remaining three targets not met relate to cleaning, repair and testing emergency phones. Target of 100 per cent, performance 99 per cent.

  2.2.2  Most of the targets set for the Agency in 1998-99 were achieved including submission of a revised Road User's Charter to Ministers and publication of congestion information in the Agency annual report. However four targets were missed.The requirement for the trunk road network to be available for use by 40 tonne vehicles was missed by 0.01 per cent. The percentage of vacant residential property at the end of the year stood at 25 per cent which was 7 per cent over target set. The Agency missed one of the six Whitehall Standards by 17 per cent when the tolerance was 10 per cent and only managed 60 per cent against an efficiency effectiveness target of 80 per cent.

  2.2.3  The majority of the targets set for the Agency in 1999-2000 were achieved, including publishing a Green Policy Statement and Action Plan, and meeting most of the Road User Charter obligations and Whitehall Standards. However, the Agency did miss two targets. The Agency's 1998-99 dry-run" accounts were qualified and it therefore did not achieve the target of publishing accounts in the Treasury Resource Accounting and Budgeting format. The Agency also did not achieve Investors in People (IiP) accreditation. A reassessment took place in September this year and the IiP assessor will be recommending to the IiP recognition panel that the Agency receive accreditation as an Investor in People. The Agency also missed a sub-target in each of the Road Users Charter and Whitehall Standards targets.

Performance Targets 2000/01

  2.2.4  Appendix C sets out the more focussed set of targets from the 2000-01 Business Plan. The work of the Agency divides into four main areas:


  2.2.5  The Agency's top priority is to maintain the network in a safe and serviceable condition (ie available for use) whilst minimising costs over time, disruption to users and others affected by the network, and the adverse impact on the environment. The 2000-01 maintenance budget is £691 million plus £17 million for Transport for London roads prior to transfer.

  2.2.6  Maintenance includes a wide range of activities, from major reconstruction and resurfacing of road pavements and repairing bridges, to the everyday upkeep such as clearing litter, servicing emergency telephones, cleaning road signs and salting roads before ice and snow are expected.

  2.2.7  The Agency achieved all its maintenance targets in 1999-2000 and significantly exceeded the targets for delivering bridge maintenance schemes and road surface renewal.

Making Better Use

  2.2.8  The July 1998 Transport White Paper charged the Agency with developing and implementing measures aimed at making better use of the trunk road network and integration with other transport networks. The Making Better Use (MBU) programme has a budget of £224 million in 2000-01 with an additional £3 million to cover Transport for London roads prior to transfer. This programme delivers across the five criteria identified in the White Paper of:

    —  Improving safety.

    —  Supporting a sustainable economy.

    —  Improving accessibility to everyday facilities for all, especially for those without a car.

    —  Reducing impact on the built and natural environment.

    —  Improving integration with other forms of transport and land use policy.

  2.2.9  The Making Better Use programme includes projects from the following areas:

    Network Communications. This area is a substantial contributor to the safety and smooth running of the network and supports the Agency's developing role as a Network Operator. It includes monitoring of the trunk road network, automatic detection and warning of incidents and the provision of driver information systems.

    Local Network Management Schemes (LNMS). These are smaller-scale schemes (costing less than £5 million) delivering local improvements within a short time scale. Historically, smaller schemes have been targeted mainly at improving safety. This remains a high priority, but other important areas where such schemes deliver benefits are economy, environment, accessibility, and integration. It also includes pilot schemes for innovative projects.

    Research and Development (R&D).This programme is guided by an R&D strategy developed by the Highways Agency in consultation with DETR(C) and external organisations.

  2.2.10  The Agency achieved the 1999-2000 key targets for delivering smaller scale schemes and for progressing the Traffic Control Centre project. Data required to ascertain whether the target for reducing road casualties was met will not be received and analysed by DETR(C) until late autumn.

Targeted Programme of Improvements (TPI)

  2.2.11  This is the programme of major road improvements announced in A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England, plus the further additions announced in March 2000 and the additional programme of work outlined in Transport 2010: The 10-Year Plan. This programme of new construction is aimed at addressing some of the most pressing infrastructure problems, to provide safer and healthier communities, regeneration and integration, and in support of jobs and prosperity. The budget for the TPI programme (£482 million in 2000-01 with £14 million to cover Transport for London roads prior to transfer) comprises three main elements - those schemes funded conventionally, those funded through public-private partnerships, and the costs of acquiring and managing land. There are also a number of Multi-Modal Studies (MMS) taking place at this time in order to identify the sustainable solutions for some of the most congested parts of the network. It is envisaged that some of these studies will recommend a roads based solution to the pressures they are addressing leading to further additions to the TPI programme.

  2.2.12  The Agency achieved the 1999-2000 key targets in this area, by slightly exceeding the target of meeting 85 per cent of the TPI scheme milestones, and by reducing its portfolio of residential properties and the proportion of properties left vacant.

Modernising the Highways Agency

  2.2.13  The Agency's key objective of being a good employer, managing the Agency's business efficiently and effectively, and seeking continuous business improvement, remains a high priority, particularly as the Agency takes forward the programme of action arising from the Modernising Government White Paper.


  2.2.14  The lease on the Agency's existing London office (St Christopher House) expires in September 2002 and a replacement office has to be found. It will cost significantly more. Following the transfer of roads to the Greater London Authority the Agency has reviewed its longer-term presence in London. The review concluded that the Agency's future business needs and operational functions could be met with fewer posts located in London. By the time the lease expires, the Agency plans to reduce London posts from about 400 to 250 by moving posts to other regional offices and continued gradual migration thereafter until the final level of London posts is achieved. Staff representatives are being consulted and staff will be kept fully informed at every key stage in the process.


  2.3.1  Customer service has always been a priority for the Highways Agency. Considerable progress in developing customer-focused services had already been made when the Modernising Government White Paper was published in March 1999, with a member of the management board acting as the "customer's champion" since 1996. The Agency is committed to serving its customers by:

    —  informing customers about services provided by the Agency; what is happening, or is planned to happen, on the motorway and trunk road network and what impact this will have on road users;

    —  responding promptly to customers' enquiries, complaints and comments; ensuring that information is available when and where they need it, including electronically;

    —  consulting customers on their concerns and priorities as road users through regular independent surveys and involving them through committees and focus groups; and

    —  feeding back customers' views into service standards, targets and planning to improve the quality of our services.

Providing Information To Customers

  2.3.2  Customers can access information directly from the Highways Agency Information Line, Local Customer Information Lines, and the Website. Information is also made available through a range of publications, press notices, videos, and public exhibitions.

  2.3.3  The Highways Agency Information Line (HAIL) was set up by the Agency in 1994 to replace the former Department of Transport "Cones Hotline". The call rate has risen from 3500 per year in 1994 to 67,500 in 1999, and continues to rise. Approximately half the calls are about current road works, including requests for advice about journey planning. The remainder are general enquiries, some of which are re-directed to DETR(C), to local authorities and to public transport providers. An independent survey in 1999 showed customer satisfaction levels of above 90 per cent for staff courtesy, helpfulness and speed of initial response.

  2.3.4  The customer survey indicated a demand for improving the quality of road works information. In response, a new IT project is being developed to enable information on road works and other incidents to be updated on a daily basis. This enhanced service should be available by the end of 2000. In the longer term, the Traffic Control Centre Project will deliver real-time information about events on the network, enabling road users to make more informed decisions about how and when to travel. The Agency will also be developing the links established with other transport providers and will support DETR(C) in the development of the comprehensive internet-based travel information service, Transport Direct.

  2.3.5  Where appropriate, Local Customer Information Lines are also provided for callers wanting to make enquiries about local schemes and issues. At a local level Area Team Managers and Project Managers of new schemes maintain contact with customers through meetings, correspondence, and publishing leaflets.

  2.3.6  The Highways Agency Website was first launched in 1997 and has been redeveloped in 1998 and again in June 2000. It has links to public transport operators; other transport-related sites such as motoring organisations, pedestrian and cyclist groups; and environmental groups. On average, the site has 10,000 visitors a month, including enquiries that receive a written reply. Information currently available on the website includes details of planned road works on the motorway and trunk road network; key publications; contractual information; and contact points for customers wishing to make enquiries.

  2.3.7  In future, we aim to provide better quality travel information from the new IT system and the Traffic Control Centre Project described above; improve the information focused on young users; and use the website as a means of consulting users and the public about issues and schemes. More information will be provided for technical audiences and contractors and links provided to the websites established by the Cabinet Office covering recruitment and interchange opportunities.

Responding To Customers

  2.3.8  The Agency's Correspondence Management target is to respond within 15 working days to 85 per cent of the 30,000 communications (letters,e-mails and faxes) received each year which need a written reply. In 1999-2000 the Agency achieved 82.4 per cent but current figures show an improvement to 86 per cent. The Agency recognises that it needs to continue to improve response times still further.

  2.3.9  Complaints are treated as a valuable source of information, providing opportunities for customer-focused improvements. Where a customer is not satisfied with the way in which a complaint has been handled there are established procedures in place that include an appeal to an independent mediator. Nine complaints have been referred to the mediator since the procedure was set up in 1996. A review of the complaints procedure is taking place with the aim of streamlining the procedure and making more effective use of complaints analysis to inform service improvements.

Customer Consultation And Involvement

  2.3.10  Four national Road User Satisfaction Surveys have been undertaken since 1995. The report of the most recent one was published in June 2000. The aim of these regular surveys is to track changes in the opinions and concerns of motorway and trunk road users and to enable us to identify priorities for improvements to services on the network.The surveys show that satisfaction with Highways Agency services has been increasing over the period 1995 to 1999.

  2.3.11  The most recent national survey showed that customers' main priorities for the future are improvements in overall maintenance and the speed and efficiency of carrying out road works. The issue is being addressed in a specific Survey of Attitudes to Road Works, which are also the subject of a significant proportion of customer complaints. The aim is to provide us with information enabling customer-focused improvements to be made in the management of road works. A Mystery Shopping Survey has also been commissioned to test the quality of the information provided by HAIL.

Road Users' Charter

  2.3.12  The first Road Users' Charter was published in 1994. It has been revised twice and a further revision is planned for publication later this year. It is distributed widely through service areas, petrol stations, council offices, libraries etc, and is available on the Agency's Website. The Charter describes the work of the Agency and how customers can make contact. It also sets out standards we aim to achieve in delivering services. These standards are supported by a corresponding set of performance targets.

  2.3.13  In preparing the new edition of the Charter the Agency has involved its customers in identifying and drawing up new and revised targets through a Road Users Charter Targets Survey, the results of which were published in June. The objective was to develop, refine and test ideas for targets through customer based research, enabling future targets to be better focused on road users' concerns and priorities.

Consultative Committees

  2.3.14  The national Road Users Committee (RUC) was established in 1994 to involve all users of the motorway and trunk road network and not just motorists, in a direct dialogue with the Agency. Membership is made up of senior representatives from the Automobile Association, Royal Automobile Club, Cyclists Touring Club, Pedestrians Association, British Motorcyclists Federation, British Horse Society, Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, Freight Transport Association, Disabled Drivers Association, Road Haulage Association, Ramblers Association, BBC Travel News, Confederation of British Industry, Association of Chief Police Officers, National Federation of Womens Institutes, and the Transport and General Workers Union. The Committee provides the Agency with the opportunity to discuss ideas and proposals with road users and those affected by its proposals. They have also been closely involved in the recent revision of the Road Users Charter.

  2.3.15  Regional committees were established in 1998 to provide a forum to aid communication between the Agency and its local customers. The committees discuss regional operational matters and initiatives, bringing to the attention of the main committee any issues that have a wider significance. For the most part, membership mirrors that of the national committee.

  2.3.16  In the light of the Agency's new role as a Network Operator, a Working Group of the RUC committee is currently reviewing their aims, objectives and membership. The Group has made some recommendations, which will be discussed at the next meeting in November.

  2.3.17  In 1999 the Agency also established a National Environment Committee (NEC). The Committee focuses on environmental operational issues and facilitates liaison between the Agency and national environmental groups. Membership comprises senior representatives from the Environment Agency, English Nature, English Heritage, Countryside Agency, National Air Quality Forum, Civic Trust, National Trust, Royal Town Planning Institute, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Association of National Park Authorities, Transport 2000, Council for the Protection of Rural England, and Friends of the Earth. Regional committees have also been established, mirroring the National Committee in the same way as the regional Road User Committee.

Electronic DeliveryTargets

  2.3.18  In the context of the Government target for all dealings with Government to be deliverable electronically by 2005, the priority for the Highways Agency is the provision of accurate information about the trunk road network. The Agency has been looking at ways to widen the scope of information provided to customers, and improve methods of delivering that information. Examples are:

    —  Variable Message Signs (VMS) at key interchanges on the motorway network to provide strategic travel and route planning information. The Agency's research programme continues to develop this facility to advise motorists of alternative routes to avoid congestion and reduce delays. Currently the Agency is developing and evaluating a new motorway VMS sign which can display a range of coloured pictograms together with text messages.

    —  The Motorway Incident Detection & Automatic Signalling System (MIDAS) provides automated warnings of incidents ahead when queues of slow moving or stationary vehicles are detected. MIDAS has been installed on key parts of the network to reduce accidents and is being progressively introduced on the most congested routes.

    —  The recent demonstration Travel Information Highway project (TIH) makes use of Internet technology to exchange information with network operators and service providers. One of the first uses of this has been for the Agency to provide real time (live) information about the motorway signal settings to the AA and RAC for the Radio Data System - Traffic Message Channel service. This enables users to be kept informed of possible congestion locations. In the future, the TIH service will be provided through the Traffic Control Centre (TCC) project being developed as a public-private partnership.

    —  The recently launched Road Traffic Advisor (RTA) project, also developed in partnership with the private sector, will provide instant travel information for a particular route, directly into vehicles. The driver will be able to access a range of information varying from simple sign information to speed limits.

  2.3.19  The Agency's Information Systems/Information and Communications Technology (IS/ICT) Strategy covers all IS/ICT and e-commerce issues and addresses the need to further develop opportunities and electronic purchase and delivery, and to make progress with digital signatures, web-sites, and Government gateways. The strategy is currently being reviewed.


  2.4.1  The Highways Agency is committed to achieving the aims set out in the Modernising Government White Paper through an ongoing and long-term programme of reform.

Policy Making

  2.4.2  The new aim and objectives for the Agency, reinforced by the long-term goals in Transport 2010: The 10-Year Plan, are already increasing the focus of the Agency on outcomes rather than outputs and has given added impetus to delivering high quality services that are efficient and responsive to the needs of citizens. This is reflected in the following examples:

    —  Strategic Planning in partnership with regional planning bodies,including active participation in multi-modal transport studies and working with local highway authorities to transfer responsibility for non-core parts of the trunk road network to them—a process known as de-trunking.

    —  Developing a series of Strategic Plans covering each of the investment areas and investment criteria set out in the Integrated Transport White Paper to deliver the Government's policies for sustainable development and the provision of integrated transport solutions.

    —  Building on the Strategic Plans by developing Route Management Strategies for the core network.

    —  Involving the Road Users' Committee and National Environment Committee in the development of operational strategies.

    —  Undertaking regular Customer Satisfaction surveys; and

    —  Developing improved Risk Analysis and Value for Money procedures and guidance that are reflected in the Agency's Procurement Strategy and related initiatives to deliver public-private partnerships and other partnerships and innovative "Toolkit" schemes delivering integrated transport solutions.

Responsive Public Services

  2.4.3  The Government requires public service to be responsive and available for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, where there is demand and to have published service standards for their delivery. It is also seeking to increase the use of a partnership approach between public sector bodies and an alignment of the boundaries between them. The Agency currently operates a 24-hour service for many of its operational services, such as winter salting of roads, motorway emergency telephones, and travel information. The Highways Agency Information Line has recently extended its hours of operation and the website is available 24 hours a day. The Agency is also actively developing partnerships with transport operators and industry. Examples of partnerships with other operators include an agreement with Railtrack to work together in implementing plans to integrate trunk roads and motorways with rail networks, and successful pilot schemes with railway and bus operators encouraging motorists to use other modes of transport.

  2.4.4  To fulfil the Agency's operator role more effectively and strengthen the relationships with planning bodies, the Agency has re-aligned its operational boundaries to match those of the Government Offices and regional planning bodies. This enables the Agency's Network and Customer Service teams to concentrate on developing relationships with these and other partners, while Project Services teams focus on the delivery of programmes and schemes.

  2.4.5  The White Paper emphasis on efficient, high quality public services is reflected in the development of alternative methods of procuring services through public-private partnerships that are delivering better quality services more efficiently. The Agency has also established a Business Improvement Team to promote the use of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Business Excellence Model for business improvement and to lead Better Quality Service Reviews across the organisation. Previous improvement activities include:

    —  An Agency self assessment using the EFQM Excellence Model;

    —  Divisional and team self assessment exercises producing prioritised improvement action plans covering approximately half the Agency;

    —  Process mapping and improvement of Agency procedures such as invoice handling, procurement, and Development Control procedures.

  2.4.6  Following the Next Steps Review and Modernising Government White Paper, business improvement activity has focused on preparing for Better Quality Service (BQS) Reviews. The Agency is currently defining its key activities and prioritising reviews to enable all BQS Reviews to be completed by April 2004.

Valuing Public Service

  2.4.7  The requirements to establish core competencies, empower staff, achieve Investors in People status, reform pay and grading, improve rewards, set targets for minorities, be a family friendly employer and provide good training, are well-advanced in the Highways Agency. The Agency has an established core competence framework, introduced a new pay and grading structure in 1998 and has developed a reward strategy in 1999-2000. The Agency remains committed to achieving IiP accreditation having failed to achieve this in 1999. A reassessment took place in September this year and the IiP assessor will be recommending to the IiP recognition panel that the Agency be accredited as an Investor in People.


  2.5.1  The most significant current issues for the Highways Agency arise from Transport 2010: The 10-Year Plan published in July 2000. The targets in the 10-Year Plan will be reflected in future Agency performance indicators. The Agency's Aim and Objectives published in the July 1998 Integrated Transport White Paper were confirmed by the 1999 Next Steps Review and the 10 Year Plan.

  2.5.2  The Plan envisages a step change in resources with £21.3 billion allocated for strategic roads over the 10-Year period enabling the Agency to implement the recommendations of the multi-modal studies due to report over the next three years. The funding is sufficient to allow for an indicative programme of major road schemes of £6.9 billion, in addition to the present £3 billion Targeted Programme of Improvements. Such funding levels are sufficient to:

    —  Widen about 9 per cent of the core trunk road network, including about 13 per cent of the motorway network;

    —  Undertake 80 major (ie over £5 million) junction improvement schemes;

    —  Build 30 by-pass schemes on the core network;

    —  Continue to maintain the network in an optimum condition; and

    —  Resurface over 60 per cent of the core network, including all concrete roads, with lower noise surfaces.

  2.5.3  This represents a challenging expansion of the Agency's workload with associated requirements to develop new measures to speed up delivery without reducing consultation, and to broadly treble the present levels of new investment through public-private partnerships. The Agency and DETR(C) have regular meetings to discuss the actions necessary to deliver the 10 Year Plan commitments and the progress being made towards delivery. Recruitment of additional resources is an example of one such area. The Agency has discussed an outline strategy including staff recruitment plans.

2.6.  MAJOR REVIEWS 1998-2001

Next Steps Review

  2.6.1  The first Next Steps Review of the Highways Agency since its launch in 1994 was completed in July 1999. The review evaluated the Agency'sperformance over the period and considered whether Agency status remained appropriate. The review was steered by officials from DETR(C), the Agency, Cabinet Office, HM Treasury, Government Offices and three external members.

  2.6.2  On the Agency's performance the review concluded that it had:

    —  Been largely successful in meeting the targets it was set.

    —  Made major improvements in its procurement of maintenance and major schemes and cut its running costs substantially.

    —  Responded quickly and positively to major changes in policy, having, in particular, shifted its focus from being a road builder to its new role as a network operator.

    —  However, DETR(C) and the Agency had failed to put in place effective performance indicators to monitor the performance of the Agency.

  2.6.3  On institutional arrangements the review concluded that:

    —  Agency status should continue.

    —  The next review should take place no later than 2004 but the Secretary of State might carry this out sooner if policy developments warrant an earlier review.

    —  New outcome-related performance indicators should be included in the Agency Business Plan for 2000-01 and better performance indicators to measure efficiency and effectiveness introduced. That has been achieved but work is continuing on developing supporting indicators.

    —  The Agency should market test new procurement arrangements for maintenance using longer term, output-based contracts that transfer more risk to private sector contractors.

    —  Functions that have not already been market tested, should be reviewed over the next three to five years in line with the principles set out in the Modernising Government White Paper. An action plan for Better Quality Service (BQS) reviews is being prepared.

    —  The division of the Department's roads technical expertise between the Agency and DETR(C) should be re-examined to determine whether greater centralisation of these functions in either the Agency or DETR(C) would be more appropriate. Decisions on the outcome of this further review will be taken shortly.

  2.6.4  On relations with the central Department, Ministers and Government Offices the review concluded that:

    —  Greater clarity was needed in the split of responsibilities between the Department and the Agency. The new Framework Document seeks to provide this, making it clear that the Agency is responsible for most trunk road matters apart from the selection of major schemes. In addition, a working-level document clarifying the relationship between the Agency and DETR(C) is being prepared.

    —  The Advisory Board should make better use of its external members and should focus on the management and transport policy issues affecting the Agency. Four new external members have been appointed.

  2.6.5  The Agency should consult Government Offices formally about its programme to make better use (MBU) of existing roads and those offices should be able to recommend switching resources between the MBU programme and local transport plans. A Service Level Agreement between the Agency and Government Offices is in preparation.

2.7.  KEY FACTS AND FIGURES 1998-2001

  Appendix A: Map of Motorway and Trunk Road Network

  Appendix B: Map of Highways Agency Office Locations

  Appendix C: Summary of Financial Performance

  Appendix D: Table Showing Performance Against Key Ministerial Targets


  A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone

  A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England

  Transport 2000: The 10-Year Plan

  Highways Agency Business Plan 1998-99

  Highways Agency Business Plan 1999-2000

  Highways Agency Business Plan 2000-01

  Highways Agency Annual Report & Accounts 1997-98

  Highways Agency Annual Report & Accounts 1998-99

  Highways Agency Annual Report & Accounts 1999-2000

  Highways Agency Framework Document

  Highways Agency Green Policy Statement and Action Plan

  Highways Agency Strategic Plan for Safety

  Highways Agency Strategic Plan for Maintenance

  Highways Agency Environmental Strategic Plan

  Highways Agency Strategic Plan for Accessibility

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Prepared 14 May 2001