More recent version available

We published an updated version of this framework in April 2021

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Major programmes are expensive, high profile and carry great uncertainties and risks. It is not surprising that many fall short of their objectives, in terms of cost and/or outcomes.

The NAO has completed about 140 reports on major projects and programmes since 2010. Based on this experience, this framework draws together the key questions we ask when we review major programmes. It was developed for our value-for-money auditors to use when reviewing programmes, but may be useful for those seeking an overview of our work on projects and programmes.

The questions are structured into four sections:

  • Purpose: Is there a strategic need for the programme and is this the right programme to meet the business need?
  • Value: Does the programme provide value for money?
  • Programme set‑up: Is the programme set up in accordance with good practice and are risks being well managed?
  • Delivery and variation management: Are mechanisms in place to deliver the intended outcomes and respond to change, and is the programme progressing according to plan?

There are 18 key questions, each illustrated with examples of good practice and lessons learnt from our previous reports.

The Framework also outlines the NAO’s related resources that provide further support for examining issues in more depth.

We have revised the guide to reflect our work up to February 2019. The 2017 edition can also be downloaded to see evidence from our earlier reports. This is an evolving framework and we expect to add to and amend it as further evidence becomes available.

April 2019