MPs have urged the Highways Agency to drive ahead with an \u00a380 million asset management system procurement as a \u201chigh priority\u201d.\nThe National Audit Officesaid in a newly published report that the Highways Agency needed to \u201cgive a higher priority to develop and implement its Integrated Asset Management System\u201d.\nThe agency, which is responsible for the country\u2019s main roads and roadside assets, was not examining the whole life cost of maintenance \u201cas well as it might\u201d, the NAO said. The system was needed to fill in the agency\u2019s information gaps around the repair state of \u201csafety fencing, drainage, embankments or structures\u201d, among other assets.\nThe system will improve asset inventory data, and link the condition of assets to maintenance options, \u201cto ensure that the right projects go forward at the right time\u201d, the NAO said. From 2012, it will be the key system for designing projects.\nIn a contract notice issued last month, the Highways Agency said it wanted the system to be based on off-the-shelf products and tailored to its needs. Key functions will include asset inventory, cost and maintenance modelling, operations, strategic reporting, and data interchange with other government agencies\u2019 systems. Highways Agency staff at remote locations will also be able to access it on fixed and mobile PCs.\nThe NAO made its recommendations in today\u2019s \u2018Contracting for Highways Maintenance\u2019 report, in which it said the costs of maintenance had risen above inflation, after the agency failed in some regards to make best use of its contractors. It said the agency was struggling to monitor the exact costs of different types of contracts with independent road maintenance firms.\nGraham Dalton, chief executive of the Highways Agency, said the maintenance cost increases reflected the increased standard of work it was doing, and that it carried out more work at night to minimise road disruption.\nHe added: \u201cWe work hard to keep our motorways and trunk roads safe and well maintained, keeping disruption to road users to a minimum and increasing value for money for the taxpayer. ... The NAO found that most schemes are delivered on time or early and that we are making journey times more reliable for road users.\u201d\nSeparately, the Highways Agency is also procuring a \u00a3200 million system to improve its intelligence and analysis on traffic data.\nThe agency's IT infrastructure is run by Atos Origin under a \u00a375 million five year deal signed in 2008.