There have been some encouraging signs of improvement in the robustness of the approvals process in recent years but there remain a number of areas where a greater focus would add value.

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Between 2009 and 2012, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) took, on average, 120 decisions each year to start, continue or refocus its major projects and approved investments, worth a total of £41 billion. A well-functioning and effective investment approvals process is key for the Accounting Officer to be able to discharge his/her duties to Parliament and gives the Treasury confidence to delegate responsibility for investment decisions.

In late 2011, the NAO began an examination of the core MOD approvals process. This examination found that the Investment Approvals Committee (IAC) is an authoritative body and the approvals process is largely independent, although there are risks arising from perceived conflicts of interest.

The IAC is supported by staff with good expertise. It is producing more probing scrutiny reports which are improving the evidence base for the IAC’s decisions. However, more could be done to understand and mitigate the burden of multiple review processes.


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