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Schools Capital Programme – Economic Appraisals

DE requested assistance from SIB to examine the processes involved in the production and approval of the Economic Appraisal (EA).

Project Description

The Department of Education (DE) centrally administers the spending on the schools estate in Northern Ireland. The value of this programme is well in excess of £100 million per annum. In order to improve the delivery of capital projects DE requested assistance from SIB to examine the processes involved in the production and approval of the Economic Appraisal (EA).

A phased approach was agreed between DE and SIB. The phases of the project are summarised below:

  • Phase A – involved the examination of the recent processes involved in the approval of EAs and other related documentation for several projects that have received ministerial approval to proceed. 13 EAs were examined and conclusions drawn regarding the problems that had been involved in the approval process.
  • Phase B – based on the analysis a template was produced for use on all EAs with a capital value less than £5 million together with notes for guidance on the completion of the template.
  • Phase C – A further template has been developed for use on smaller projects that are within the delegated authority of DE i.e. less than £4 million.

In May DE wrote to all the schools in Northern Ireland requesting them to identify any high priority work with a value of less than £4 million that could be carried out under the Schools Enhancement Programme. The schools were requested to submit their requirements in the form of a Strategic Outline Case. 70 submissions were received by DE from all the different categories of school and all the geographic areas in Northern Ireland.

A validation process was carried out to confirm the suitability of the proposals submitted by the schools. The validation process resulted in 40 school proposals being taken forward for the construction of EAs from the end of September. The five Education and Library Boards also developed EAs for 12 controlled schools.

Over the six months October 2013 to March 2014 a team of three advisors from SIB working with DE developed the EAs for the 40 schools that were identified. The process involved taking the outline proposals from the school and using technical validation from DE to develop options which were costed and fully evaluated in the EA. The completed EAs were issued to the school for agreement and then submitted to the DE Economic Advisory Unit for approval.

The key project objectives are:

  • To improve the process for the construction and approval of Economic Appraisals for school capital programmes; and
  • To use the approach to construct Economic Appraisals for both the Schools Enhancement Programme and the Major Works Capital Development Programme.

Project Status

  • March 2015: All current SIB activity was completed at the end of March 2015. No further requirements have been identified to date.

SIB Involvement

A team of three advisors from SIB worked on the economic appraisal processes.

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