Making the Green Book green, fair and transformational
- 15 April 2020
- Posted by: Helen Nicol
- Category: News
The Green Book sets the framework through which all significant public spending proposals are evaluated. The rules are critical in determining what does go ahead and what is blocked. In this article, Stephen Hughes, former CE of Birmingham City Council, suggests that in the post Covid-19 economic landscape, these rules might need to be reviewed in order to deliver on key policy priorities.
The current framework, he argues, is ‘an excellent tool for deciding between marginal projects set in a fixed landscape, but how well can it manage changes that are designed to change the equilibrium?’
Six suggested improvements are made including:
- Clearly articulating that the purpose of evaluation is to help deliver transformational change for the economy, reduce income and wealth inequality between groups and regions, and deliver a sustainable environment including meeting carbon reduction targets.
- Include tests for environmental sustainability as well as public sector finances in viability considerations.
- Ensuring that projects are not evaluated in isolation from the contribution from all projects and programmes that impact on the social objective being pursued
- Including assessments as a comparator that as appropriate either exclude discount rates or demonstrate no deterioration in the environmental balance sheet.
- Including a methodology for assessing the quality of evaluations and business cases
- Getting better use of the commercial and management tools available in order to reduce the failure rate of public projects.
Additional suggestions to improve the wider policy development and policy evaluation process are made. They include requiring all new and existing public spending programmes and projects to be subjected to the new evaluation criteria; transformational change, greater equity and environmental sustainability.