Bidding has been suspended asset support contracts (ASCs) in Area 12 (Yorkshire) and Area 4 (Kent and Sussex).
The contracts will be retendered after the Highways Agency has given better thought to what it is actually asking of its contractors.
The revised invitation to tender (ITT) will be issued in the first quarter of 2015.
These ASCs are typically worth hundreds of millions of pounds over their five-year terms. They were introduced in 2011 to replace the previous managing agent contractor (MAC) arrangement.
The contract scope extends beyond routine maintenance to include scheme identification, value management, design and construction of schemes up to £5m and design and management of schemes in excess of £5m.
The Highways Agency says that ASCs help to reduce the cost of road maintenance by 25% by specifying the outcomes required and giving suppliers greater freedom on how to achieve those outcomes.
The Highways Agency said that it had decided to discontinue the current tender process for the Area 4 and 12 asset support contracts “so that we can give further consideration to what the successful contractor will be required to deliver under the terms of the contract”.
A Highways Agency spokesperson said: “The Agency is committed to ensuring that any contract we award is able to deliver against the backdrop of significant investment in England’s strategic road network.
“The decision to discontinue the existing procurement and issue a revised Invitation to tender has not been taken lightly; asset support contracts are a key part of the Agency’s ability to successfully deliver its objectives. The Agency has decided to discontinue the procurement following stage 1 finance evaluation due to concern arising from elements of the pricing of the bids that in the view of the Agency will not support the delivery of the contract over the next five years. By deciding to return to ITT it will give all tenderers and the Agency the opportunity to align both contract documents and return tenders to meet the challenge of successfully delivering the future needs of the Agency and the successful delivery of maintenance and improvements required between now and 2020.”