One of the challenges facing Councils in the UK is understanding how well we are performing in our management of our highway networks. Under previous Governments we had a set of National Key Performance Indicators, which measured how well we were doing in a number of areas, such as condition and road safety, however these indicators were not very reliable and have now been dropped.
For several years about half of England’s Councils have voluntarily participated in the National Highways and Transportation (NHT) survey, which uses three measures:
- the amount spent each year
- the condition of the highway network
- the level of customer satisfaction
This provides a more balanced picture of performance, however there are numerous variables which mean that directly comparing performance and effectiveness between Councils is still not possible.
Part of the work I am involved in on the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) is to understand these variables better, so that we can provide Councils with an accurate picture of how they are performing compared to others.
The Department for Transport (DfT) in the UK recently looked at how it can measure the effectiveness of Councils, and has concluded that for now the only effective indicator is to look at how they approach the management of their highway service (for example, do they have an asset management plan, how effectively do they manage their contracts, are they collaborating with neighbouring Councils), rather than the outcomes achieved.
On HMEP, we are looking at how we can use this information to determine the type of support Councils might need the most.
In mid-October, we will be announcing the results of the latest NHT survey at a conference in London. It will be very interesting to see how DfT’s recent assessment of each Council’s management compares to how well they have performed in the NHT survey. I will also share these insights in late October at the Criterion Conferences Road Maintenance event.
Does doing the right things necessarily mean that you get the right outcomes?
The next conference in the Road Maintenance series takes place on May 17th – 18th 2016. Book soon to secure your place!