Friday, July 13, 2007

TPA On Government Overspends

Making the news
The TaxPayers' Alliance has today published an important and weighty report on how much the government overspends on its projects (see here for TPA's summary and here for round-up of extensive press coverage). For the first time it painstakingly assembles the complete horrifying picture.
They (or more specifically, Policy Analyst Matthew Sinclair- well done Matt) have examined over 300 current projects, including defence, hospitals, roads, and those notorious IT projects. They say "the figures are quite startling". Personally, I'd use a somewhat stronger adjective:
  • The total net overrun for the 305 projects was over £23 billion above initial estimates. This is the equivalent of over £900 for every household in Britain.

  • The average overrun was 33.7 per cent.

  • 14 projects overran by more than the Millennium Dome.

  • 57 per cent of projects overran, compared with only 14 per cent that came in under-budget

Among the more outrageous examples, they highlight a couple of BOM's "old favourites"- the Astute class subs, currently £1bn over original budget, and of course, the NHS "supercomputer", currently £10.1bn over original budget.

An outstanding piece of work which will act as a handy reference for any taxpayer who wishes to remind him/herself why we should never believe government cost estimates.


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