As the highway sector in India continues to expand, the efficacies of different modes of implementation (EPC, BOT-Toll, BOT-Annuity, Hybrid Annuity) and the performance of vendors have been under review. A significant share of highway projects face some degree of cost and time overruns. These delays are often caused due to low quality of DPRs, staggered land acquisition and clearance process, inefficient fund utilisation, lapse in construction practices and disputes between various stakeholders. Secondly, the quality of construction and project management are often sub-standard. Therefore, a robust performance monitoring framework was required to ensure high quality output and timely completion of projects. The problems of cost & time overrun in the highway sector were also highlighted by the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation in their annual report.
With this idea in mind, Quality Council of India was approached to develop a performance rating model for highway construction vendors and design a framework for incorporation of performance rating in future bidding process.
The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways engaged Quality Council of India to prepare a robust and objective assessment framework. In order to formulate the performance rating framework and methodology, extensive research was conducted. Codes and standards were studied, international performance rating models were reviewed and sector experts were consulted. QCI developed a performance-based rating mechanism for key vendors engaged in the highway development process. Customized rating frameworks were developed according to different modes of implementation and stage of progress. The frameworks provide a holistic assessment of vendor performance and evaluate vendors on parameters like quality of construction, timely submission of progress reports and audit reports, adherence to guidelines and IRC codes, compliance with industry standards and specifications and overall process management. The vendors are required to submit documentary evidence in support of their claims. Information was also corroborated with supporting vendors.
In order to test the efficacy of the frameworks, a two-phased pilot was conducted on 20 national highway projects. The results of the pilot, challenges faced and our recommendations were discussed in detail in a meeting under the chairmanship of the Hon'ble Secretary. Our recommendations were primarily concerned with improving data management protocols, standardization of data and removing process bottlenecks. We also presented a rollout model to scale the performance rating process to cover all national highway projects in India. In addition to this, QCI designed a framework for incorporating performance rating in future bids. In such a way, the quality of past performance will play a key role in the award of future contracts. The framework for incorporation of performance rating was also reviewed in a separate meeting.
A robust performance rating system can ensure high quality output and timely completion of projects. According to Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, 74 highway projects face significant time overrun and 43 highway projects face significant cost overrun. An objective and robust performance rating system can ensure that highway construction vendors adhere to timelines and desired quality standards.
In this way, an objective assessment of all projects is carried out. This would result in overall improvement of quality of road infrastructure and vendor performance can be benchmarked against each other. Corrective actions may be taken in case of poor performance. Moreover, significant steps have been taken in direction of proper data management and standardization of reporting documents.