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Report cover showing a train

The Modernisation of the West Coast Main Line

“When the Strategic Rail Authority stepped in, the project to modernise the West Coast Main Line was in disarray, vastly over-budget and with few of the planned improvements in place. It was only through good direction by the Strategic Rail Authority and then the Department for Transport and through the exercise of firm management by Network Rail that the project was brought back on track so that benefits of faster journeys are now being delivered to passengers.

“The weaknesses in the management of the project before 2002 should provide ample warning of the dangers of entering into a scheme on this scale without clear leadership, plans and project management expertise; without fully engaging stakeholders; and using untried technologies.

“Future major projects should draw upon these lessons learned, give careful consideration up front to the potential effects of programme slippage and include plans to minimise these risks.”

Published:
22 Nov 2006
Rooftops

The mortgage rescue scheme

The Mortgage Rescue Scheme, launched in January 2009 by the Department for Communities and Local Government, achieved fewer than half of the rescues expected. The Department helped 2,600 households avoid repossession and homelessness at a cost of in excess of £240 million – but it originally expected to help 6,000 households for £205 million.

Published:
25 May 2011
Town hall brass name plate

The NAO’s role in local audit

The National Audit Office (NAO) has responsibilities within the framework for the audit of local public bodies. This leaflet provides information on our role, examples of our recent value-for-money work focused on local services, our 2016-17 work in progress and contact details for you to provide views and suggestions or to ask questions about our work.

Published:
30 Jun 2016
Report cover showing a doctor with a container of blood

The National Blood Service

“The availability of blood is essential to the NHS and many people owe their lives to transfusions that were made possible by voluntary donations of blood. The National Blood Service has had to change the blood service from a regional to a national one, cope with the emergence of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and, at the same time, maintain supplies to hospitals of sufficient safe blood.

This process of change has been accompanied by some controversy and appeared to lose momentum at one stage. But the indications are that the Service has made good progress towards providing an effective national service.”

Published:
20 Dec 2000
Cover of NESTA REPORT

The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts

“In two out of three programmes NESTA has done well to generate applications and it deserves credit for setting up sound systems for selecting and managing its projects. However, NESTA does need to achieve a more equitable regional distribution of funds, to broaden the reach of the Fellowship Programme, and to improve measurement of its own operational efficiency.

“There are also important lessons to be learned about funding public bodies through an endowment, particularly the management of risks associated with interest rate changes and the endowment declining in real terms.”

Published:
25 Feb 2004
Report cover showing policeman at desk

The National Offender Management Information System

“The initiative to introduce a single offender management database has been expensive and ultimately unsuccessful. These problems could have been avoided if the National Offender Management Service had established realistic budget, timescales and governance for the project at the start and followed basic project management principles in its implementation. In delivering the new reduced programme, NOMS need to focus on better financial controls and more effective management oversight.”

Published:
12 Mar 2009
Report cover showing people painting a wall

The National Probation Service: the supervision of community orders in England and Wales

“There is some evidence that community orders can reduce the likelihood of reconviction, but I am concerned by gaps in the National Probation Service’s knowledge about its management of these sentences. The Service needs to identify its capacity to deliver community orders and the associated costs, and the effectiveness of different order requirements in reducing reconviction.

“As a matter of urgency, the Service should establish a mechanism to monitor and report the number of orders not completed in accordance with courts’ wishes.”

Published:
31 Jan 2008