4 March 2021

View from the top: Talking technology

Technology is a significant influencer in our ability to maintain and operate the local road network. I appreciate that technology advancements are moving at a real pace but earlier this week, I asked could it be faster?

I took this opportunity when addressing the Transport Technology Forum conference on day one of a three day programme of presentations and interactive sessions. Rather than the traditional approach of PowerPoint, Darren Capes asked me a series of questions about how to fully open the doors to SMEs wishing to offer technology solutions to public sector clients.

I was able to draw on my recent experiences of Project Amber to help answer the questions about removing the barriers faced by SMEs in successfully tendering for such opportunities which included the removal of management charges payable by suppliers based on a percentage of all work delivered by them through the framework.

Controversial – yes. However, if I look at government spending in the past 15 months a small percentage management fee is insignificant from a public expenditure perspective, but so influential to the SMEs in their bid/no bid evaluation and I am keen that we make every effort to encourage new entrants to our market as this will speed up economic recovery as we emerge from Covid-19. So I remain firmly in the camp of ‘no management fee’.

We also do what we say at LCRIG. The use of contractors appointed to Project Amber is not only free to every local highway authority but we have also made the contract documents available free of charge if others wish to develop something similar.

The TTF conference will continue into Friday of this week so I would encourage you to find some time to log on and find out what is going on in the world of technology. You can register for the event here.