Guidance

Transport business case: assessment and process procedures

How the Department for Transport assesses the business case for major investments.

Documents

Strategic case supplementary guidance: levelling up toolkit

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Enabling behaviour change

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Early Assessment and Sifting Tool (EAST)

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Early Assessment and Sifting Tool (EAST) guidance

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Details

The Department for Transport (DfT) is committed to being open and transparent. This document sets out how DfT assesses the business case for major investments and supports ministers as they make decisions on them. This will enable those outside of DfT 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 5 dimensions, consistent with the Treasury green book, specifically to show whether a proposal:

  • is supported by a robust case for change that demonstrates how the proposal has a strong strategic fit organisation’s priorities, government ambitions and the area(s) in scope – strategic dimension
  • demonstrates value for money and the best choice for maximising social welfare through options appraisal – economic dimension
  • is commercially viable – commercial dimension
  • is financially affordable – financial dimension
  • is achievable – management dimension

Strategic dimension

The strategic dimension describes how the transport proposal contributes to achieving strategic priorities and how it aligns with existing portfolios, programmes and projects in DfT, across government and in the geographical area(s) of scope. It should make a compelling, evidence-based case to establish whether a transport intervention is needed either now or in the future. Further useful information is in the:

Transport business cases: the levelling up toolkit

DfT’s levelling up toolkit provides a structure to the strategic dimension of the business case that is applied to transport investments and the levelling up agenda. It helps business case authors to:

  • improve the focus, quality and transparency of evidence presented in business cases
  • demonstrate how a transport proposal contributes to levelling up

Economic dimension

The economic dimension assesses whether projects or proposals offer value for money to the public. DfT’s Value for money framework provides guidance for undertaking these assessments and communicating to decision-makers.

Financial dimension

The financial dimension 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 DfT’s budgets and accounts. The following link provides further useful information:

Commercial dimension

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 dimension. 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.

Management dimension

The management dimension 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:

Tools that support business cases

Tools are available to produce evidence that supports all 5 dimensions.

Transport analysis guidance (TAG)

TAG is the department’s website for guidance on the conduct of transport studies. Evidence that supports all 5 dimensions is produced using TAG and other tools available on these web pages.

Early assessment and sifting tool (EAST)

EAST for which an update is currently being made, is a tool 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. Download the tool and guidance via the following links:

Equality Duty

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, DfT 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.

Published 27 April 2011
Last updated 16 February 2022 + show all updates
  1. Levelling up toolkit published.

  2. Added transport business case guidance 2021.

  3. Additional supplementary strategic case guidance on the transport investment strategy and a rebalancing toolkit published.

  4. Update information on how to complete an economic case to include the 'Value for money' framework.

  5. Value for money assessment added.

  6. First published.