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Data key to ORR objectives for Highways England

Gaining a good grasp of data is one the main objectives for Highways England in the short-term, according to the Office of the Road and Rail (ORR).

The demand has been highlighted by the ORR’s framework under which it will monitor Highways’ England’s delivery of the £15bn investment planned between 2015 and 2021.

The ORR has said that Highways England faces some challenges in making the step change to its new structure and it will take a flexible approach in the first period. Nonetheless, an enforcement strategy is expected to be published by the end of the year.

The ORR has said that creation of Highways England has given the organisation greater spending powers and improved funding arrangements but it must prove it is delivering value for money.

The main themes that the ORR has said need to be tackled are developing a clear baseline for enhancement schemes, development of business management reporting; ensuring asset maintenance and renewal is undertaken at the right pace and agreeing an approach to financial performance and efficiency assessment. A report on the benchmarking programme is expected to be published by March 2016.

The framework covers setting out the information required; gathering the information; monitoring and reporting on delivery of the performance specification and investment plan; tackling areas for improvement; identification and escalation of issues; and enforcement.

The ORR has said that its role will evolve and that it wants to foster a constructive working relationships with Highways England and wider stakeholders.

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