How the Department for Transport assesses the business case for major investments.
The department is committed to being open and transparent. This document sets out how the department assesses the business case for major investments and supports ministers as they make decisions on them. This will enable those outside of the department to understand and engage with what we do. It will also provide scheme promoters and their specialists with comprehensive guidance to make it easier and simpler to understand and engage with our decision making process.
The business case
Ministers consider the evidence presented to them in a business case when making decisions on major investments. The business case is built up over time and contains all the relevant information regarding a proposed scheme investment set out in five cases, consistent with the ‘Treasury green book’, specifically to show whether a proposal:
- is supported by a robust case for change that fits with wider public policy objectives - strategic case
- demonstrates value for money - economic case
- is commercially viable - commercial case
- is financially affordable - financial case
- is achievable - management case
The strategic case determines whether or not a project or proposal is needed, either now or in the future. It should demonstrate a robust case for change, ie a clear rationale for making the investment; and strategic fit, how an investment will further the aims and objectives of the organisation. The strategic case is particularly important when decisions are made on a project at an early stage, and should provide a shortlist of options at the strategic outline case stage. The following links provide further useful information:
- carbon tool for local authorities
- the Magenta book - guidance notes on policy evaluation and analysis
- the hints and tips guide to logic mapping
- the Behavioural insights toolkit
The economic case assesses options to identify all their impacts, and the resulting value for money, to fulfil the Treasury’s requirements for appraisal and demonstrating value for money in the use of taxpayers’ money. The following links provide further useful information:
- Transport appraisal guidance – WebTAG
- Transport appraisal and modelling tools
The financial case provides evidence on the affordability of the proposal, its funding and technical accounting issues. It includes the financial profile of the different options and the impact of the proposed deal on the department’s budgets and accounts. The following link provides further useful information:
The commercial viability of a project or proposal and the procurement strategy that will be used to engage the market is set out and appraised within the commercial case. This ensures that there is a clear understanding of the financial implications of any proposed deal, both in terms of the department’s contractual obligations and associated spend in support of the required services. It also looks for evidence on risk allocation and transfer, contract timescales and implementation timescale.
The management case ensures that the project is deliverable. It tests the project planning, governance structure, risk management, communications and stakeholder management, benefits realisation and assurance. It ensures that there is clarity in the proposal and a clear and agreed understanding of what needs to be done, why, when and how, with measures in place to identify and manage any risks. The following link provides further useful information:
- transport impact evaluation guidance
- the Major Project Authority’s assurance tool kit
- the Efficiency & Reform Group’s gateway review guidance
Tools that support business cases
Tools are available to produce evidence that supports all five cases.
Transport Analysis Guidance (WebTAG)
WebTAG is the department’s website for guidance on the conduct of transport studies. Evidence that supports all five cases is produced using WebTAG and other tools available on these web pages.
Early assessment and sifting tool (EAST)
EAST is a tool that has been developed to quickly summarise and present evidence on options in a clear and consistent format. It presents relevant, high level, information so that an early view can be taken on how options perform and compare. This tool is new and we welcome feedback on both the tool and the guidance. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Download the tool and guidance via the following links:
- Early assessment and sifting tool(PDF, 1.41MB) - suitable for Excel 2003 and later versions of Excel
- EAST Guidance (PDF, 252KB)
The public sector Equality Duty came into force on 5 April 2011.
In complying with the Equality Duty, and with the aim of delivering better and more cost-effective policy outcomes, the department must have due regard to equalities issues, consciously thinking about equality as a matter of course before making decisions, when developing policies and services, and in all departmental planning. This includes looking at evidence, engaging with staff, service users and others to understand the effect of our policies and practices on the whole community.
Transport schemes delivered by others
The department works in partnership with other organisations to deliver transport schemes: