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Call for evidence

Written evidence submissions - The Government’s management of its major projects

The Government’s Major Projects Portfolio (MPP) has 133 projects with a value of £423 billion, and these are only a fraction of the projects delivered by Government. Major projects are the main mechanism by which the government invests in infrastructure, transforms services, and improves IT. The MPP includes high-profile projects such as Crossrail, Gov UK Verify, and the 30 hours free childcare programme.

There are many examples of costly project management failures across Government and the National Audit Office (NAO) highlighted the same issues afflicting multiple projects leading to cost and time overruns and failure to achieve benefits. In March 2019, a NAO report on Verify stated that it was an “example of many of the failings in major programmes that we often see, including optimism bias and failure to set clear objectives”.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee is holding an inquiry into how well such projects are managed by Government. The inquiry asks cross-cutting questions about how well the Government delivers projects, its ability to learn from mistakes, and the usefulness of published information for holding the Government to account.


The inquiry will not examine individual projects in detail.

  • How does the Government decide where and how to invest money through major projects? What role should the national infrastructure strategy play in this?
  • How well does the Government estimate cost, time and benefits at the start of projects? Are there barriers to doing this well, and what mechanisms could be used to ensure estimates more are accurate?
  • Does the government take an evidence-based approach to deciding whether and how to outsource project delivery? Does the government contract appropriately for outcomes it wants to achieve, and use the most appropriate delivery vehicles?
  • How well do internal and external oversight and assurance mechanisms work to keep projects on track and highlight when they are at risk of going off course?
  • Does the Government learn the lessons and apply them to future projects? What are the key lessons from previous projects that should be considered as part of the inquiry, and what examples of good practice could be highlighted?
  • How could published project data be improved to enable both Parliament and the public to hold the Government to account? How useful is information that is published by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), and how easy is it for Parliament and the public to find out whether projects are being delivered in line with the expectations set out at the beginning of a project?


If you are interested in submitting evidence to the inquiry and would like more details or wish to discuss the issues please contact Claire Hardy 020 7219 3268