Background to the report

Government programmes range from transport infrastructure, military capability and nuclear projects, to digital programmes or government building improvements. To secure best value from the significant amounts of public money the government has committed, it is crucial that it can successfully navigate the challenges of delivering its major programmes. However, government programmes often encounter difficulties, taking longer and costing more than planned, and not delivering the intended aims, with significant and high-profile consequences.

Jump to downloads

We have examined major programmes across different parts of government and at different stages over many years. Our work has directly supported Parliamentary scrutiny of government programmes and provides an independent evidence base to inform the public about how government programmes are performing.

Scope of the report

This report draws together insights from our recent reports on major programmes, including on Crossrail, Carrier Strike and Universal Credit. While there is a wealth of literature and courses on major programmes, we repeatedly see similar problems. We think that many of these problems have their roots in four key areas: scope, planning, managing interdependencies and oversight.

This report examines the root causes of the issues we see most often and why we think they occur, in order to identify learning points that we think government should focus on in order to improve its performance on major programmes.

Read more about our work on major programme and project delivery.