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Benchmarking and market testing the ongoing services component of PFI projects

“It is important that public officials test the cost and quality of facilities services to get value for money during the life of a PFI contract. My report highlights lessons in how value-testing should be carried out. In particular, public officials must have the necessary skills, must promote vigorous competition when value testing, and they must have a full understanding of whether and how the private sector’s price and service proposals offer value for money.”

The report recommends that the recent Treasury guidance be taken up by departments and that the Treasury should continue liaising with departments to identify suitable cost data to use in benchmarking. The NAO also urges that further steps should be taken to compare the cost and quality of facilities services under the PFI with conventional outsourcing experience.

6 Jun 2007

Big science: Public investment in large scientific facilities

“The introduction of a shared plan covering all the Research Councils is beginning to deliver new large facilities which will be available to scientists from across the research base. Improvements are needed however, if the benefit of the current planned £1.2 billion investment in scientific facilities is to be maximised. Before a project is approved, the range of scientific, industrial and economic benefits should be consistently specified.

“The full financial impact of a facility also needs to be better understood to make sure that only those projects which are sustainable in the long term are selected. More consistent application of Government-wide project review procedures and greater sharing of procurement practices would help teams to deliver timely and economical projects.”

24 Jan 2007

Building for the future: Sustainable construction and refurbishment on the government estate

“When I last reported on construction in 2005, I emphasised the need to consider both the costs and benefits over the whole life of a building, not just the initial capital required. Despite this, today’s report highlights a continuing failure by departments to consider the long-term value of sustainability in their new builds and refurbishments. This is particularly disappointing given the importance of sustainability in promoting a deeper understanding of value for money.

“Government departments and agencies spend in the region of £3 billion each year on new builds and major refurbishments. If sustainability is well handled, and addressed at the very beginning of construction projects, it can and should provide better value for money in the long term.”

20 Apr 2007

Building more affordable homes: Improving the delivery of affordable housing in areas of high demand

“To address the shortage of affordable housing, ODPM has set ambitious targets to increase the supply.

“But there remain a number of areas where central and regional bodies can provide better leadership, guidance, clarity and co-ordination. More houses could be built more quickly and a streamlining of the delivery chain would help the Department meet its commitments under the wider Efficiency Programme.”

Audit Commission Chairman, James Strachan said:

“People deserve the right to live in homes that meet their needs. This target is of enormous importance to many key workers and people who are increasingly finding it difficult to afford appropriate accommodation. While progress is being made, building more affordable homes remains a huge challenge. We must make sure that we are making the best use of all available resources. Recommendations made in this report will help the government to work towards achieving this important target.”

20 Dec 2005
Energy plant

Carbon Capture and Storage: the second competition for government support

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has not achieved value for money for its £100 million spend on the second competition for government financial support for carbon capture storage.

20 Jan 2017

Central government’s management of service contracts

“Central government spends around £12 billion each year on service contracts, many of which are critically important to the delivery of its objectives. Improving the way these contracts are managed would not only save money, but also improve services and reduce risk. There are examples where public bodies and suppliers have worked together to improve services and reduce costs. There remains a need for more qualified people to manage these contracts, and for clear performance indicators to show whether services match up to contract objectives.”

19 Dec 2008