Option appraisal is crucial to ensure Government decisions are fully informed and based on robust evidence. Appraisals can be applied at project, programme or policy levels, and have particular value when there is pressure to reduce costs while minimising effects on frontline services or the wider economy.

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This review of the quality and use of option appraisal in Government is based on case examinations of over 50 impact assessments and business cases; surveys and interviews with over 100 economists, policy and finance staff; and analysis of relevant secondary sources. It is aimed at staff involved in option appraisal at working level or responsible for options appraisal within a department. There are specific findings which will be of interest to the Treasury and Better Regulation Executive.

May 2011