About major project delivery
We have significant experience auditing government’s major programmes and projects. These are often large-scale, novel, delivered by multiple stakeholders and present risks many commercial organisations would not take on.
Our work shows the chances of success are closely related to the quality of the early decisions. Common challenges include:
- being realistic about the level of uncertainty around how much programmes and projects might cost and how long they might take;
- establishing robust, yet flexible, governance and assurance; and
- understanding and managing the integration with other projects
No matter the size, these are critical if a programme or project is to deliver value for money. Delay and increased costs on one scheme can have wider repercussions, on other projects, programmes, departments and overall expenditure.
The Government Major Projects Portfolio was established in 2011 to increase transparency and provide independent assurance of the biggest and riskiest projects.
Although this has led to improvements in programme and project management, government could do more to embed good practice.
The reports and guidance on this page contain analysis, advice and tools to help government improve programme and project delivery.
Sets out the key questions we ask, with examples from a range of reports to show how they support learning from past programmes and projects.
Ground rules and factors for senior decision makers to consider when challenging costs.
A review of projects that highlights the implications of optimism bias and some key contributory factors.
It’s often unclear if major projects have achieved their intended outcomes. Better closedown processes would improve evaluation.
Work in progress
What the Superfast Broadband Programme has delivered, and how the UK’s broadband infrastructure has coped with increased traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Opinion and comment
Common themes across all programmes, from clarity on intended benefits to having the resources to put programmes into practice.
Transformation programmes are complex and face numerous barriers. So what does it take to be one of the minority that succeed?
Gareth Davies on the R&R Programme for the Palace of Westminster (The House magazine).
Simon directs our Major Projects Hub. He has been with the NAO for almost 20 years, auditing a wide range of government departments in that time. Simon also directs our Corporate Finance Network, specialising in project finance. He is a Member of the Charted Institute of Securities and Investments.
Hedley has been reporting on major infrastructure, construction and commercial projects for over 10 years. His work has covered sectors including the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, transport (Crossrail, HS2, rail franchising and road enhancement projects) and nuclear decommissioning (major projects at Sellafield).
John has 25 years of project delivery experience. He was the Gateway Review Leader and Gateway Director in the Office of Government Commerce. He also held senior Programme and Project Management positions in the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
Jennifer worked on the delivery of a wide range of projects through the Millennium Commission and Arts Council England. She has been a member of the Association for Project Management for nearly 20 years.