Part 5: Improving the cost-effectiveness of maintenance work

New Zealand Transport Agency: Delivering maintenance and renewal work on the state highway.

5.1
In this Part, we set out our observations about how NZTA could improve the cost-effectiveness of maintenance and renewal work, through:

5.2
This Part brings together the findings of this report on NZTA's delivery of maintenance and renewal work and the findings from our first report, published in September 2010, which examined how well NZTA uses information and plans for maintenance and renewal work. Based on the findings in both reports, there are three areas that we consider are important for NZTA to continue to work on to improve the overall cost-effectiveness of maintenance and renewal work.

Using information to improve the effectiveness of maintenance work

5.3
Our audits highlighted the importance of NZTA having more complete information about the condition of the state highway network (particularly for bridges, tunnels, and other structures) and consistently monitoring the performance of consultants and contractors. These are important for NZTA to know what the key issues affecting the condition of state highways are, and whether those issues are being adequately addressed by the maintenance work of its consultants and contractors.

5.4
NZTA has been working to improve the completeness of its information about the nature and condition of state highway bridges, tunnels, and other structures. It has also introduced measures to improve the consistency of its monitoring of consultants and contractors.

5.5
In our view, continuing to focus on, and refine over time, information about the condition of state highways and the performance of consultants and contractors will help NZTA to ensure that it plans and delivers high quality and cost-effective maintenance work.

Planning maintenance work to target the most important work for the long-term condition and use of state highways

5.6
Our audits highlighted the importance of having clearer links between long-term and day-to-day maintenance planning. They also highlighted the importance of NZTA regularly engaging with road users on what they expect from state highways. These are important for NZTA to know that its work is focused on the most essential work for both the long-term condition and use of state highways.

5.7
NZTA has made improvements. For example, NZTA has prepared an interim asset management plan for state highways and is planning to publish a revised plan by September 2011. The interim plan introduced a stronger connection between what the different levels of service for maintenance mean for road users (for example, keeping the roughness of a state highway's road surface below certain levels) and what they would expect to experience as a result (for example, how the levels of roughness could affect the smoothness or comfort of their ride). Our second audit highlighted that NZTA staff were very customer-focused – a strategic priority – in the areas we visited. They communicated closely and regularly with a range of road users and the transport industry on maintenance planning and operational matters.

5.8
In our view, continuing to review and improve its planning and engagement with road users will help NZTA to ensure that its work is focused on the most important aspects of maintenance for both the long-term condition of state highways and what road users need from it now and in the future.

Refining the ways maintenance work is delivered on state highways

5.9
Our audits highlighted the importance of NZTA reviewing some of its approaches to determining what type of maintenance work needs to be done. For example, some levels of service for maintenance – and the national balance of ways maintenance work is contracted across the state highway network – have been in place for many years without review. Our second audit also highlighted the importance of NZTA regularly reviewing maintenance work toward the end of contracts to assess how well quality and cost-effectiveness have been delivered, and to identify any wider lessons from the contract that could be applied to other work.

5.10
Reviews are important so that NZTA can learn lessons about what works best and refine its approach to delivering maintenance work on state highways on an ongoing basis. NZTA has been improving how maintenance work is being delivered through its asset management and procurement planning.

5.11
In our view, continuing to refine how maintenance work is delivered will help NZTA ensure that the right maintenance is being done in the best way to delivery high quality and cost-effective work.

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