UK ‘needs better project assessment regime’

The UK government needs more consistency in its cost and feasibility assessments of major projects - and more needs to be done to outline current challenges around skills shortages and record inflation, a committee of MPs has warned.

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The Commons public accounts committee (PAC) has published a new report arguing that government departments are not consistently producing cost and feasibility assessments of major projects or sharing them with Parliament.

“This impacts decision-making about whether a project or programme should go ahead, or whether it can be delivered with value for taxpayers’ money,” the committee said.

The PAC is also calling on the Treasury and Infrastructure & Projects Authority (IPA) to outline areas where current challenges such as the skills shortages and the impact of rising inflation may significantly change major programmes.

“The public spending squeeze will make effective delivery of major projects within tight budgets even more crucial,” said PAC chair, Dame Meg Hillier.

“Accounting Officer Assessments have a crucial role in revealing the thinking of the civil service, separate to political decision making. They are an essential element of ensuring the government’s major, expensive projects measure up on transparency and cost effectiveness.”