Report by NAO says government needs to learn from ’hard won lessons’

The National Audit Office has urged the government “to make better use of hard won lessons from the extensive PFI programme”.

The spending watchdog made the statement in a report which brought together findings from five PFI projects in the UK. The report stated that the government should develop “enablers of success” in PFI procurement by:

  • Collecting better data to inform decision-making
  • Ensuring projects have the right skills 
  • Establishing effective arrangements to test, challenge and, if necessary, stop projects
  • Using commercial awareness to obtain better deals

According to the NAO the case for using private finance also needs to be scrutinised more as cost debt finance increased by 20% to 33% during the credit crisis.

The report however welcomed current plans by the Treasury and Cabinet Office to strengthen project assurance.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The public sector should make better use of the hard won lessons from the extensive and substantial PFI programme.

“This means acting as a more demanding and intelligent customer, by harnessing government buying power through concerted tactics and tougher negotiation.”