Northern Ireland Assembly
£700 million Cost Overruns Mar Key infrastructure Projects
The Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee has published its wide-ranging inquiry report into Major Capital Projects. The report focuses on 11 high profile and high value infrastructure projects, including the A5/A6 and Casement Park, as part of the Regional Stadia Programme and Sub-Regional Stadia Programme for Soccer.
Over the eight-year period from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2019, almost £10.6 billion was spent on infrastructure projects and estimates are that, by 31 March 2021, more than £14.8 billion will have been spent on these projects. Each of the flagship and high profile projects suffered from time delays and cost overruns to a total value of £700 million.
William Humphrey, MLA, Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee said:
“During our inquiry into Major Capital Projects, frankly we were shocked by the delays and cost overruns which were apparent across the entire range of high value and flagship projects. The £700 million cost overruns that have been incurred could have been better invested in our schools, hospitals, roads and transport networks.
“In short, not only was the system for commissioning and delivering major capital projects over complicated, it was clear that many of the senior staff did not have the relevant experience or expertise to allow them to deliver these projects within the agreed timescales and budgets. This is an issue that has been raised repeatedly by this Committee in relation to its review of major capital projects.
“We were also disturbed to find that there is no single oversight body whose function it is to ensure that projects are being delivered properly. We strongly recommend that Northern Ireland, like other jurisdictions, should have this kind of oversight body.
“Additionally, the Head of the Civil Service should have a more direct role in ensuring that projects progress within the agreed cost and time constraints, something that is not currently the case. It came as something of a surprise to be told by the Head of the Civil Service that he could not direct what other permanent secretaries could do—something that can lead to silo working with less joined up thinking.
“We believe, and have recommended, that the Northern Ireland Civil Service Board be strengthened to include more independent non-executives to help achieve this transparency and accountability.”
Some of the most disturbing findings from the inquiry concerned the business case process, with comparisons drawn to issues surrounding the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme. As part of its evidence, the Department of Finance assured the Committee that it has introduced a new approach to developing and progressing business cases, but the outcome of this new method is yet to be assessed.
Many of the delays and cost overruns were also associated with securing planning permission and the judicial reviews that led to delays and increased costs. To reduce this, the Committee has recommended that the civil service works with the judiciary to take steps to simplify and improve this process, including reviewing the bar for taking judicial reviews.
Mr Humphrey concluded:
“These important capital projects should and could have been delivered without many of the delays and excess costs. We are clear that the Departments involved, and the civil service, need to make the improvements we have outlined in our recommendations.”
Notes to Editors:
The projects examined as part of this inquiry were:
- Belfast Rapid Transit
- Belfast Transit Hub
- Mother and Children’s Hospital
- Critical Care Centre
- Primary Care Community Centres
- Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, Learning and Development Centre, Desertcreat.
- Casement Park (Regional Stadia Programme and Sub-Regional Stadia Programme for Soccer)
- Ulster University, Greater Belfast Development.
- Strule Shared Education Campus
For media queries please contact:
Northern Ireland Assembly
Telephone: 028 9052 1405
Mobile: 07920 864221
Latest News from
Northern Ireland Assembly
Committee finds Systemic Problems with Special Educational Needs Programme26/02/2021 14:15:00
The Northern Ireland Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee has released its Report on Impact Review of Special Educational Needs.
Committee Releases Report into Impact of COVID-19 in Care Homes02/02/2021 16:15:00
The Assembly's Health Committee yesterday launched its Report on its Inquiry into the Impact of COVID-19 in Care Homes with a debate in the Assembly Chamber.
There's Still Time to Have Your Say on Bill of Rights Consultation26/01/2021 16:15:00
The Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on a Bill of Rights launched its public consultation in November 2020 and since then, more than 1,700 people have responded to have their say on the creation of a local Bill of Rights.
Contract Extensions Cost Taxpayers more than £120m says Committee21/01/2021 10:33:00
The Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee yesterday published its Joint Report on Management of the NI Direct Strategic Partner Project – helping to deliver Digital Transformation and The LandWeb Project: An Update.
Local Primary Schools' Maths Results Among Best in the World, says Committee10/12/2020 16:15:00
The Assembly’s Education Committee has welcomed the latest results of the ‘Trends in International Maths and Science Study’ (TIMSS) which shows local primary pupils outperforming most other participating European countries in mathematics.
Committee Welcomes New Private Sector Representation on Procurement Board07/12/2020 16:15:00
The Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee recently welcomed the announcement by the Minister of Finance that there will be private sector representation on a new Procurement Board.
Speaker Hosts Zoom Lecture Marking the Centenary of the Government of Ireland Act03/12/2020 16:15:00
In a first yesterday, the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr Alex Maskey MLA, hosted a virtual lecture from the Senate Chamber in Parliament Buildings to mark the centenary of the Government of Ireland Act.
Future Agricultural Policy must be Robust and Fit for Purpose, says Committee23/11/2020 16:15:00
The Assembly’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee recently (19 November 2020) received a Departmental briefing on future agricultural policy.