4.2 Delivering the programme:
Assurance and approvals

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Accountable and transparent decision-making requires the development of local assurance frameworks setting out the roles and responsibilities in decision-making. Assurance processes as well as appropriate project and programme management frameworks are key to the successful delivery of transport schemes. The sections below provide an overview of government guidance in these areas.

Assurance processes provide stakeholders with confidence that delivery will be to plan – on time, to cost, quality and fit for the realisation of benefits. The results of the assurance process should also be integrated into the project and programme management processes.

A key part of the assurance process is the conduct of reviews, whether on specific elements or on the entirety of a programme or project.

The approvals process determines the decision-making pathway for the project: what decisions are made and when, who is responsible and what information is used. The approvals and assurance processes should be integrated within the development of the Business Case as well as within  programme and project management processes.

Figure 4.1 Assurance and approvals

Figure 4.1 Assurance and approvals

Assurance and approvals processes need to be set up at project level as well as being considered at the programme or portfolio level.

Major Projects

For Major Projects the standard assurance process is the Gateway Reviews which take place as project definition progresses (i.e. as the Business Case builds up from the SOBC to the FBC). The OGC Gateway Process examines programmes and projects at key decision points in their lifecycle. It looks ahead to provide assurance that they can progress successfully to the next stage. The Gateway Review Process is a series of short, focused, independent peer reviews at key stages of a project or programme. The reviews highlight risks and issues, which if not addressed would threaten successful delivery.

The Gateway Review Process looks at programmes and projects at six stages and considers the readiness to progress to the next phase.

The six stages, or Gates are:

  • Gate 0 – Strategic assessment.
  • Gate 1 – Business justification.
  • Gate 2 – Delivery strategy.
  • Gate 3 – Investment decision.
  • Gate 4 – Readiness for service.
  • Gate 5 – Operations review and benefits evaluation.

For local transport projects there is no requirement to use a Gateway Review Process, however a robust assurance framework and processes, potentially following the same stages should form part of the delivery strategy.

The delivery model will determine the extent to which the local public body manages the assurance and approvals process. Even where a public-private arrangement is made having the correct assurance and approvals processes is vital to give confidence to the public sector and other stakeholders.

Transport Delivery Excellence Programme

With the aim of supporting LEPs to deliver substantial investment and a long pipeline of projects agreed with DfT through the Growth Deals, the LEP Network and DfT have been working together to develop a Transport Delivery Excellence Programme, funded by DfT.

This Programme supports LEPs to deliver committed schemes by providing funding for additional resources as well as support in the form of tool kits, guidance material and face-to-face input. Local Partnerships, a joint venture between Treasury and the LGA formed in 2009 to help the public sector deliver at a local level, has been supporting LEPs through this Programme. The Programme provides support across the full cycle of project delivery including procurement, risk management, governance and stakeholder management.

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Key takeaways

Key takeaways with regard to programme and project assurance include:

  • Assurance frameworks set out the roles and responsibilities for transparent decision-making.
  • A key component of the assurance process is the conduct of reviews, whether on specific elements or on the entirety of a programme or project.
  • The standard assurance process consists of Gateway Reviews which take place as project definition progresses – a series of short, focused, independent peer reviews at six key stages of a programme or project.

Key takeaways with regard to programme and project delivery include:

  • Efficient programme and project management is vital to ensure policies are delivered to plan.
  • Crucial aspects to programme and project delivery include clearly defining delivery requirements, identifying and managing main project risks, a defined process for decision-making, change management and reporting, a strong execution strategy, evolving an organisational design over the project lifecycle, procurement process and asset management.

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4.3 Project and programme delivery