Project and people management

Public bodies deliver services to citizens through two main forms of managerial activity: Functional management and programme and project management.

Functional Management is about maintaining normal operations to meet policy objectives. Most activity within public services falls within this definition

Project delivery is a core skill, not just for the public sector but also for its private sector partners. Getting it right means better public services, delivered more efficiently, effectively and economically.

About three quarters of our value for money reports examine programme or project management.

Showing 1 - 10 of 10 results. Order by: Most recent Alphabetical


Over-optimism in government projects

Optimism bias in public sector projects is not a new phenomenon. But it is one that persists, frequently undermining projects’ value for money as time and cost are under estimated and benefits over estimated. This report uses our back catalogue to illustrate the consequences of over optimism. In doing so, we have identified some contributory factors – such as project complexity and an organisation’s culture of challenge.

19 Dec 2013

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The DECA: Understanding challenges in delivering project objectives

The Delivery Environment Complexity Analytic (DECA) is a tool developed by the National Audit Office (NAO) to provide a high level overview of the challenges, complexity and risks to delivery of a project, programme, policy or area of work.

25 Oct 2013

Whiteboard with post-it notes

A snapshot of the use of Agile delivery in central government

This is the second report on Agile delivery in which we aim to provide practical support to those in publicly funded bodies who are using or considering using the approach in business change programmes.

25 Sep 2012

Whiteboard with post-it notes

Governance for Agile delivery

This is the first report on Agile delivery in which we aim to provide practical support to those in publicly funded bodies who are using or considering using the approach in business change programmes.

25 Jul 2012

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NAO Guide: Initiating successful projects

In this guide we highlight National Audit Office reports which illustrate the different approaches departments take to initiating projects. We show how they develop a realistic understanding of the risks, benefits and deliverability of projects.

6 Dec 2011

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A framework for managing staff costs in a period of spending reduction

This paper sets out a framework for effective management of staff costs in a  challenging environment of cost reduction in public services. It builds on the high level principles set out in the NAO’s short guide to structured cost reduction.

18 Aug 2010

Cover of sanctions and rewards report

The use of sanctions and rewards in the public sector

This report contributes to the debate on incentivising public sector performance. It brings together the evidence on the effectiveness of sanctions and rewards (we commissioned Deloitte to conduct a review of the literature), summarises the results of our survey on their use in central government, and provides a practical guide on how to use them well. Discussions about how to lever greater levels of performance increasingly propose the use of these measures.

15 Sep 2008

Promoting healthier lifestyles for prisoners: a good practice guide

This good practice guide, designed for prison officials, looks at the potential to improve prisoners’ health and lifestyles.

1 Mar 2008

Using communication to tackle theft from vehicles: A good practice guide

This report provides guidance for Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and Community Safety Partnerships on the most cost-effective channels for communicating with the public, reminding them of what they can do to minimise the risk of being a victim of vehicle crime and seeking to deter people from becoming theft-from-vehicle offenders.

1 Jan 2008

Theft from motor vehicles – Identifying potential offenders: A good practice guide

This good practice guide is designed for Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships to help them minimise the risk of people becoming offenders.

1 Jan 2007

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