The Scottish Government needs to improve the way it audits and monitors the cost of major capital projects, according to a report published today by the Public Audit Committee.
In its findings on the Auditor General for Scotland’s report – Review of major capital projects in Scotland – the committee raises concerns about the current Scottish Government arrangements for reporting progress on major capital projects. In particular, it highlights the lack of audit trails and formal reporting mechanisms which would allow project managers and accountable officers to identify potential problems as quickly as possible.
Committee Convener Hugh Henry MSP said: “We are concerned that the reporting arrangements for major capital projects are often inadequate and piecemeal in nature. We believe that detailed formal audit trails with detailed time and cost reporting are necessary to flag up any developing issues. This allows action to be taken to manage any emerging issues and to ensure that major projects can be brought in on time and within budget.”
The committee has called on the Scottish Government to ensure that more projects are subject to formal review procedures to ensure that they remain on track and are properly managed. In addition, the committee has asked the Scottish Government to consider how it can make information on the progress of projects more readily available to the public.
The committee also says that it is unacceptable that current requirements to conduct post-project evaluations are not being complied with, as this makes it difficult to determine whether projects have delivered their promised benefits.
Mr Henry said: “It is important that the Scottish Government has systems in place to determine whether publicly funded projects deliver the benefits they set out to achieve. The system also needs to pick up lessons learned from previous projects so that best practice can be spread and poor practice can be avoided in future. The committee believes that there needs to be serious improvement in this area.”
The Public Audit Committee has also highlighted the need to improve the early time and cost estimates of projects and has asked the Scottish Government to provide further information on work it is doing to improve these estimates.
The Public Audit Committee report follows the committee’s inquiry into the Auditor General for Scotland’s report Review of major capital projects in Scotland.