Background and history

Background and history

In 1997 the Norwegian Government initiated a project to review the systems for planning, implementing, and following up public investment projects. The background was numerous examples of projects that had failed in terms of cost overruns, delays, quality standards not being met, etc. In 1999 the steering committee for the project delivered its final report based on a review of 11 concrete investment projects under the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Labour and Administration. The report recommended the introduction of a quality assurance scheme in major public projects’ planning process.

Accordingly, a quality assurance scheme was introduced in 2000. The Ministry of Finance entered into a framework agreement with constellations of consultants to perform the QAs. This first agreement was only about quality assurance of the management base and cost estimates before a project is submitted to Parliament for approval and funding (now known as QA2). It was decided that the requirement to undergo QA should apply to projects with an estimated budget of more than NOK 500 million. Investments in the oil sector and made by state-owned responsible companies were exempt, as they still are today.

The second period of framework agreements was 2005–2010. The scheme had been modified and the most important change was the extension to include a separate quality assurance of the choice of concept (QA1). This was based on an understanding that the choice of concept is actually the most important decision for the state as project owner. The third period of framework agreements was from 2011 to 2015 and saw an increase in the threshold for projects to be evaluated from the previous NOK 500 million to NOK 750 million. The fourth period lasted from 2015 to 2019. For the current period, the fifth, the Ministry of Finance has a 2-year agreement, with a possibility to extend for 2 more years. The threshold did again increase to NOK 1 billion, but with a lowered threshold of NOK 300 million for digitalisation projects.

You can read more about the content and scope of the current QA scheme here.