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National Highways puts £1B of procurement meat on the bones of its ambitious digital strategy

Security, data management, IT cost analysis, DR... It's all needed.

Hot on the heels of its ambitious new "digital, data and technology strategy" National Highways (previously Highways England) has begun procurement for IT services with a sweeping new £1 billion framework.

The National Highways IT procurement framework spans 18 lots, largely of 48 months. Procurement opportunities range from cybersecurity to data management services; via disaster recovery and IT cost analysis.

The contract (which landed September 17) comes as the agency kicks off plans to use more roadside robots, "heavily automate and optimise the lifecycle of major projects, boost lifecycle management of OT assets" and overhaul both its approach to IT and data from England's roads and to its suppliers.

National Highways IT procurement: partners sought, but CIO also has a "relentless focus on growing in-house digital capabilities"

New Highways England Digital Strategy: From digital twins to automated plant.
Highways England CIO Victoria Higgin is leading delivery.

National Highways' new digital strategy [pdf] -- published in May 2021 -- is being led by CIO Victoria Higgin, who joined the company in late 2019 from National Grid.

She noted in the report: “We can only transform, enable and improve through a relentless focus on growing in-house digital, data and technology capabilities.

"We’ll need expertise and knowledge in critical technical areas, as well as building strong and mutually beneficial partnerships with an expert supply chain," she added in the report, which highlights the need for the agency to "improve the breadth and depth of our supply chain and the way we specify and manage their expected performance and results.

On a recent call with The Stack, one public sector CIO flagged National Highways' technology strategy report as an exceptionally ambitious and clear-sighted statement of intent, admitting to "a little professional jealousy” at the organisation's focus on digital transformation; which comes as the government allocates £27.4 billion to the country's strategic road network between 2020-2025.

National Highways says it is aiming to build a technology architecture modern and flexible to allow it to quickly create new services or improve the existing ones through re-use of existing services, cutting technical debt to improve operational technology upkeep and "strengthening our in-house architecture function, to provide expert support and build the long-term view of our IT and Operational Technology estates."

The new Information Technology Commercial Framework (ITCF) launched September 2021 follows the launch of its sister Operational Technology Commercial Framework (OTCF), which was launched on the July 2021.

See also: Zurich UK’s Head of DevOps on low-code, shadow IT, and in-sourcing