A description of the quality assurance scheme - QA1 and QA2

A description of the quality assurance scheme - QA1 and QA2

The Ministry of Finance has entered into a framework agreement with seven constellations of consultants to perform quality assurance (QA1 and QA2) on major public investment projects. The seven constellations consist of the following Norwegian companies:

Holte Consulting AS, Menon Economics AS og A-2 Norge AS incl. Voie Prosjekt AS

Atkins Norge AS, Promis AS og Oslo Economics AS

Metier OEC AS og Vista Analyse AS

Dovre Group Consulting AS, Transportøkonomisk Institutt AS incl. subcontractor Dovre Group Projects AS

Concreto AS, Tyréns AB og Scienta AS incl. subcontractor: OCG AS

Marstrand AS og Møreforsking Molde AS and subcontractors

Ernst & Young AS, WSP Norge AS, WSP Sverige AB og Sintef AS

It is compulsory to use one of these consortia to perform QA1 and QA2. It is the sectoral ministry (e.g. the Ministry of Transport and Communication in the case of road projects), in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, that makes the purchases (call-offs according to the terms of the agreement). The sectoral ministry is responsible for the follow-up of the call-off.

All public investment projects with an expected budget exceeding NOK 1 billion, or NOK 300 million for digitalisation projects, shall undergo quality assurance. The oil and gas sector, and also state-owned companies with responsibility for their own investments, are exempt. The hospital sector has established its own QA scheme, which is described and assessed in Concept Report No. 25. From 2013, there has been a similar requirement for quality assurance of the choice of concept for major power line investments. Public projects that are purely upgrading projects, where no alternative concepts exist, may also be exempt from QA1, but not QA2.

 

Quality assurance of the choice of concept (QA1)

Quality assurance of the choice of concept (QA1)

Quality assurance of the choice of concept is to be performed by the end of the concept appraisal phase, before a decision is made by the Cabinet to start a pre-project. The purpose of QA1 is to ensure that the decision to start a pre-project and the choice between alternative concepts are subject to political control, and also that the documents underlying the decision base are of high quality.

As a basis for the QA1 exercise, the ministry or agency must prepare the following documentation, normally integrated into one document (the document is called Conceptual Appraisal (KVU))

  • Description of the current problem
  • Needs analysis
  • Overall strategy
  • Overall requirements
  • Possibility study
  • Alternatives analysis
  • Guidance for the pre-project phase

The content of these chapters is described in the circular R-108/19 from the Ministry of Finance (only available in Norwegian). The alternatives analysis shall take the form of a benefit-cost Analysis that includes all costs and benefits to society, whether expressed in monetary terms or in other ways.

The consultant is to review this documentation and check for consistency within and between chapters and to control that the alternatives given are relevant to needs, strategy, and requirements, and fully exploit the opportunity space. The consultant shall also undertake an independent uncertainty analysis and a benefit-cost analysis and give recommendations regarding the ranking of alternatives and the decision strategy. Finally, the consultant shall give his or her recommendations regarding the implementation strategy and advice for the pre-project phase.

 

 

Quality assurance of the management base and cost estimates, including uncertainty analysis for the chosen project alternative (QA2)

Quality assurance of the management base and cost estimates, including uncertainty analysis for the chosen project alternative (QA2)

 

QA2 is to be performed before the project is submitted to Parliament for approval and funding. Normally, this is done at the end of the pre-project phase. The control aspect is the main objective of this exercise. The consultant shall review the documentation behind the proposition presented to Parliament, with emphasis on cost estimates. In addition, the QA shall be forward-looking by charting the management challenges in the remaining phases of the project.

As a basis for the QA2 exercise, the following documents must be prepared by the responsible ministry/agency:

  1. An overall project management document (steering document)
  2. Documentation of changes between QA1 and QA2
  3. A complete cost estimate
  4. An assessment of at least two alternative contract strategies
  5. An updated benefit-cost-analysis and plan for realising benefits.

The consultant shall review these documents, and also undertake an independent assessment of success factors and pitfalls, and quantify the uncertainty related to total cost. On that basis the consultant shall give recommendations regarding:

  • Total cost frame for the project, including necessary contingency reserves to account for uncertainty, and cost frame for the responsible agency.
  • How the project should be managed to maximize the probability that the cost frame will hold.

A QA2 takes between two to five months to conduct. For more complicated projects or projects with a high degree of risk the assessment may take longer. If the information provided is insufficient the quality assurance will be put on hold awaiting further work.

Upon termination of each QA exercise, and according to the framework agreement, the consultant shall submit all project-related data to Concept’s database according to a specified format.