Nearly halfway through the roll-out of the NZ Transport Agency’s network outcomes contracts (NOCs), early indications are that the new maintenance and operations approach is producing the outcomes sought. Report by NICLAS JOHANSSON, NZTA.
TAURANGA HIGHWAY MANAGER Niclas Johansson has responsibility for high-level liaison with industry and oversight of the effectiveness of the model. He is the champion and sponsor of the industry advisory group, a group comprising Transport Agency staff and a broad range of contracting and consulting representatives.
Niclas says the major reshape of the state highway maintenance and operations operating environment has seen a good level of overall competition in the roading industry.
Nine network outcomes contracts have been rolled out since 1 July 2103, with a good level of interest by a range of the suppliers. There are also a large number of small and medium local providers being engaged by suppliers.
An industry advisory group was originally established to help shape the new maintenance and operations model.
Niclas says the group has subsequently helped to provide oversight throughout the roll-out of the new contracts. It has also acted as a group to challenge new concepts working to identify opportunities to maximise network efficiencies and effectiveness.
With a number of contracts now actively underway, the industry advisory group’s focus is moving from process to delivery, and how best the Transport Agency and the industry as a whole can realise the gains that can be made under the new maintenance and operations model.
Value for money and healthy markets continue to be key focus areas, as well as potential improvements to the procurement process to help generate the best outcomes from the model.
“We’re committed to keeping industry informed and engaged, so we are continuing with the regular industry advisory group meetings to help ensure everyone is kept up to date with any process improvements,” Niclas says.
Constrained maintenance budgets and the resulting Road Maintenance Taskforce and Road Efficiency Group, were the major impetus for development of the NOC approach. Other underlying principles were the desire for increased collaboration across the sector, and for the Transport Agency to take increased ownership of its state highway asset.
After over two years of liaison and consultation with the wider transport sector, the Transport Agency agreed the NOC approach; an approach that meant relatively significant change for the sector and some reorganisation of the Transport Agency’s Highways and Network Operations Group, resulting in new roles focused specifically on the network, contract management and customer journeys.
Niclas says these changes have resulted in the Transport Agency now being better informed about the condition of New Zealand’s state highway asset, enabling better quality decisions relating to the asset.
“Through taking a more hands-on approach to managing our state highway asset, we are now better attuned to the realities of managing the asset, and the impacts of any decisions we make on the condition of the asset,” Niclas says.
“The basis of good decision making is benchmarking, which in turn requires good data. It’s important we get good data in from our suppliers, as this data will drive decision making for the future.
“The information we get now is tied into forecasting, and what is included for maintenance and operations in the State Highway Activity Management Plan in future years.”
Niclas’ role is also to act as an impartial and confidential point of contact for industry to allow a free and open dialogue about the NOC approach. Importantly, his role sits outside the contractual relationships of any NOCs currently operational.
He has been involved in the Road Maintenance Taskforce and Road Efficiency Group, so will be known to many. He is interested in hearing from industry if there are any issues, comments or feedback on the NOC model, and can be contacted via email@example.com.