Roads Australia is embarking on a major research project with Ducere to investigate the cost of tendering in Australia.
Overseen by our Capacity Chapter, the project will seek answers to why the cost of bidding is so high in Australia relative to other international markets, and make recommendations on how to reduce those costs.
The project will be undertaken in two stages. Ducere will initially undertake a scoping study to develop a process to investigate the efficiency of current tender practices. In the second stage, that process will be implemented to deliver a comprehensive picture of tendering in Australia today, including a comparison of international costs of tendering.
RA members and stakeholders will play a central role in the project, participating in interviews during both stages.
The final report will make recommendations to improve the cost and time efficiency of the tender process, and highlight key areas where the recommended improvements can deliver better value outcomes.
Roads Australia will take the report findings to both government and industry to argue for changes in current tendering practices.
Our partner in this project, Dūcere, is a leading business school delivering an industry-relevant curriculum structured by some of the world’s most successful leaders, and in partnership with universities in Australia and abroad. Here in Australia, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard is Ducere’s Chancellor.
Launched this month, the cost of tendering project is expected to be completed by November.
The road industry has given a tick of support for the harmonisation of common contracting methods for standard delivery models, but says agencies are generally still demanding too much documentation in tender submissions and need to strengthen the pre-qualification process.
These were among the key finding of the Capacity Chapter’s 2015 Procurement Survey, the summary results of which are now available on the Chapter Presentation and Papers webpage.
Detailed results pertaining to each road agency are currently being prepared and presented to the agencies for consideration and feedback. Once the feedback is in, the Chapter will be hosting further workshops with industry and agencies to find common ground and get traction on some of the key issues raised.
Among the findings of the Survey:
Austroads is continuing its consultation process on the proposed harmonised road asset data standard, with a second draft standard expected to be released for review in July.
Last month members of Roads Australia's Capacity chapter provided valuable feedback and support at a workshop hosted by RMS in Sydney. Some 65 stakeholders attended to provide feedback on various aspects around the creation, implementation and evolution of the new standard.
Austroads has been working on this national metadata harmonisation initiative since 2014, and says it will deliver a range of positive cost benefits around maintenance/investment, as well as internal savings on data collection.
The focus of the project is on road management and investment. The object is to identify key data fields for standardisation to support road management and investment functions across a wide range of organisations, including funders, regulators, grants commissions, government agencies, data suppliers, software vendors, etc.
Austroads is keen to better understand what is important to public and commercial sector organisations in developing the new standard, the challenges of adoption and how the standard can evolve to best meet business needs - hence the Roads Australia workshop.
Roads Australia will continue to keep members informed as the project meets its milestones. For more information, contact our Policy Director, Mandi Mees.
Policymakers need to build a nationally-consistent standard using a risk-based approach to help road users safely navigate road worksites. This was the major recommendation to come out of RA’s Safety at Road Worksites Forum held late last year, the final report of which has just been released on the Capacity Chapter webpage.
The Forum report says the proposed standard needs to acknowledge different road worksite environments and different road user types, their capabilities and needs – understanding that different road users have varying levels of experience using road space, including varying abilities to acknowledge and interpret communication while on the move. Particular attention needs to be focused on the limitations of heavy vehicles.
According to the Report, the optimum outcome for road workers and users alike is a uniform approach, flexible enough to accommodate different road environments and provide for continuous improvement of road worksite safety design and implementation.
For best effect, the design, delivery and implementation of the new standard should also align with national legislation.
Accountability is critical, the report notes. By embracing whole of supply chain responsibility principles (similar to those currently in place for the heavy vehicle industry), the new standard has an opportunity to encourage sector-wide accountability and industry self-regulation. An audit process, alongside best practice review and improvement, is essential.
Agreement by Austroads, Standards Australia and SafeWork Australia on national competencies for traffic management training, licencing and registration will encourage investment in continuing education and training for engineers, construction managers and traffic managers.
Attendees at last year’s Forum agreed that driver distraction and lack of driver concentration are challenges that require increased and dynamic intervention. Stepping up the education of the travelling public, in particular, to increase awareness of how to behave appropriately in and around worksites is key to encouraging compliance.
At the same time, the industry must be proactive in embracing new and existing technologies, like radio communications, to alert road users about the road environment and conditions.
Stricter enforcement is another key strategy for improving safety outcomes that gets aired in the Report. However, it says that ahead of ‘wielding the big stick’, we first need to address the consistency of communication and the uniformity of speed limits and signage in and around road worksites so that road users know exactly what is expected of them, wherever they are in Australia.
Roads Australia’s call for post-completion reviews as a way of building a legacy of project learnings has been heard by Infrastructure Australia (IA), with the national advisory body recommending in its Australian Infrastructure Plan that funding for nationally significant projects should be contingent on proponents agreeing to post-completion reviews.
In its submission to IA, Roads Australia said that post-completion reviews should be routinely undertaken, and would effectively create a legacy of learning by capturing opportunities to improve project selection, appraisal, and promote an efficient, best public value environment for procurement and successful project delivery.
In the Plan, IA directly referenced RA’s submission, and noted that despite the potentially substantial benefits of post-completion reviews, they were not routinely used by funders and proponents of public infrastructure.
“Where reviews are conducted, feedback to future proposals is rarely provided,” IA said.
“The inconsistent use of reviews to measure delivery against forecasts makes it challenging to identify systemic successes and failures.
“Rectifying these shortcomings, and making better use of post-completion reviews, should be a priority for funding agencies and project proponents. Reviews should be independently-audited to ensure feedback is impartial, rigorous and transparent."
One of the less publicised recommendations of the Australian Infrastructure Plan was a call for an infrastructure skills plan to ensure Australia develops and retains the right people with the right skills to deliver infrastructure over coming decades.
The Plan found that skills shortages contributed to cost increases for infrastructure construction, and that development of an infrastructure pipeline presented an opportunity to develop a better skilled workforce and minimise skills shortages in the future.
The Plan recommended that the COAG Infrastructure Working Group deliver a national infrastructure skills plan to ensure Australia has the right people with the right skills to deliver our infrastructure to 2031 and beyond. It said a skills plan should provide:
Click here to see the Australian Infrastructure Plan.