Experience demonstrate that large public investment projects may fail to fulfil their intended targets. Problems vary from cost overruns, or unrealized intended short- or long term societal benefits. Explanations can be traced back to the appraisal process, the political decision process, and to the project design. It could be caused by lack of competence, available tools and methods, psychological mechanisms, such as optimism bias, etc. in order to counter such problems, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance established a Quality Assurance Scheme, also referred to as the State Project Model, for major public investments in the year 2000. The scheme is now in its fifth period of framework agreements, with independent consultants to perform external quality assurance.

The Concept research programme has existed since 2002 and is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Finance. It monitors and analyses data from projects under the quality assurance (QA) scheme and contributes to its continuous improvement.

Concept is an independent research programme and not an integrated part of the QA scheme. During its first years the focus was mainly on cost estimation and risk analysis. In 2005 the QA scheme was expanded with an earlier control point, designated as QA1, which focuses on the choice of concept. It is here that we find the main challenges today.

About Knut Samset, the founder of the Concept-programme

The Concept-programme was founded by professor in project management at NTNU, Knut Samset. His work and teachings on front-end management, conceptual appraisal, ex-ante and ex-post evaluation lay the foundations for the research conducted by the programme.

Samset has a dual education in technology and the social sciences, and has over the years worked with technology assessment, future studies, international development assistance, project management and evaluation. He has extensive experience as advisor to national and international organisations and has undertaken studies and evaluations on behalf of the governments of the Nordic countries and Japan, UN agencies, OECD and The World Bank. He is a widely quoted author of research reports and papers, and has written several books on technology assessment, project design, evaluation and front-end management of projects