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Barker, Geraldine
Beardsley, Grace
Parsons, Annie
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
International Transport Forum Discussion Paper 2014-12
Abstract (Translated): 
The UK National Audit Office (NAO) scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament, helping it to hold government departments to account and helping public bodies improve performance and delivery. We publish around 60 value for money studies each year across a range of government activities, of which, around three of these usually cover transport topics. Our reports look at how government projects, programmes and initiatives have been implemented and make recommendations on how it can be improved. Our value for money work is not strictly ex-post assessment in the usual sense of assessing a programme once it has been in operation for some time. Due to the length of time needed to complete major transport investments and our remit to focus on accountability, we often carry out an assessment of a project before its completion. In some cases, particularly for significant infrastructure investments, a series of value for money reports is appropriate as the programme will develop over time. These tend to focus on how the programme is being delivered, in terms of the planning, procurement or construction phases of infrastructure projects. We have had cause to comment on the Department for Transport's (the Department) failure to carry out full ex-post assessment of the UK transport projects that we have examined. Ex-post assessments have a valuable role to play in capturing learning and feeding into decision making about current and future projects. Given the long lead times such projects and programmes often have before they deliver their intended benefits, ex-post assessments should be one part of a wider programme of reviews throughout a project or programme's life. In carrying out our work our three main aims are to: Obtain robust evidence and analysis in order to draw sound conclusions about whether the investment of public money provided value for money; Address the issues which taxpayers and their elected representatives believe are pertinent in making that assessment; Draw out lessons for future programmes both within the transport sector and elsewhere in government. The first and third of these - the need for robust evidence and the desire to learn for the future - clearly have strong parallels in "classic" ex-post assessment. We base our work on a standard approach which we apply across the range of central government's activities and services. All our value for money work refers to an analytical framework shown in Appendix 2 of this paper (...)
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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