The National Audit Office (NAO) has called on the government to introduce a central system to mandate spending on large-scale projects, including ICT programmes, to provide assurances that projects will be delivered on time and to budget.
The NAO estimated that assurance for high risk projects currently costs £8.3m although it wouldn't be drawn on how much the proposed system might cost. However, anything around that figure would represent a good return on investment compared with an annual spend of £10.5bn on large-scale projects.
The complex nature of such projects, which usually involve a range of stakeholders, means that the government must provide decision makers with clear information on each project as it progresses.
The NAO also said that the new assurance system should be made compulsory for all large projects, and focus on ensuring the best possible outcomes.
Amyas Morse, auditor general of the NAO, believes that such a system will reduce the risk of overspend and ensure that taxpayers' money is well spent.
"The new system should make greater use of hard evidence in judging whether the elements fundamental to successful project delivery are in place and operating effectively," he said.
Large-scale government IT projects, such as the NHS Spine or the now defunct identity card scheme, have often missed key deadlines and resulted in huge overspending.
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