Red ratings for four of the government’s major projects

Infrastructure and Projects Authority says number of "at risk" schemes has dropped from 44 in 2016 to 38 this year 

Traffic lights Credit: Pixabay

By Jim.Dunton

27 Jul 2017

Two Department for Transport major projects and one scheme each for the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, cannot be delivered successfully according to data from the Infrastructure Projects Authority.

The authority said the 143 schemes forming the Government Major Projects Portfolio had a combined value of £455.5bn, and the proportion of programmes deemed to be "at risk" had decreased from 44 last year to 38 this year.

A crunch of the figures supporting the IPA’s annual report, carried out by the Institute for Government, found that more than half of the programmes were rated “amber” under the traffic light system indicating their progress. However, there are three categories of amber, ranging from amber/green  –  denoting "probable" successful delivery, to amber/red, where successful delivery is "in doubt". 


The IfG said the size of the portfolio was unchanged compared to 2016, after a large drop in the previous year. While 36 of the government’s major projects from last year left the portfolio, the same number of projects were added.  

The four red-rated schemes, which means successful delivery appears unachievable, are DfT’s proposed M20 lorry area in Kent, which would provide parking space for up to 4,000 HGVs and minimise disruption when the Channel Tunnel closes, and the department’s A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down bypass, near Stonehenge.

The MoD’s red-rated project is the Core Production Capability programme, covering the phased regeneration of the current nuclear core production facilities on the Rolls-Royce Site at Raynesway in Derby.

BEIS’s red-rated scheme is the Urenco Future Options programme, the sale of the government’s one-third shareholding in Urenco, a company which provides enriched uranium to the civil nuclear industry.

In addition to the red-rated schemes, the Home Office’s Adelphi Modernisation – which was red-rated last year – has been reset, giving it a blue rating that denotes a significant change in the business case.

IfG researcher Aaron Cheung said the IPA’s latest figures indicated the government was still managing too many large and complex projects.

“While the number of projects being managed by the government has stayed the same as last year, the average whole-life cost of projects has grown – rising 4% from £3.05bn to £3.19bn,” he said.

“This is partly due to smaller projects being merged to create larger ones. The Department for Education, for example, merged two separate school building projects to create a single project worth a combined £4.4bn.

“Larger projects can offer significant potential benefits to the economy, but they also tend to be riskier and harder to manage. Based on international experience, nine out of 10 projects costing more than £1bn go over budget.”

Cheung added that projects that had been in the GMPP for longer were more likely to have better ratings, making it “concerning” that almost one-quarter of projects that had been in the portfolio since 2013 were facing major issues, as indicated by a red or amber/red rating.

Among the projects with amber/red designation are the Department for Work and Pensions’ People and Locations Programme, HMRC’s Building Our Future Locations Programme, and the Department for Health’s National Data Services Development Programme.

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