Managing infrastructure projects on nuclear-regulated sites

Summary

To maintain the continuous at sea deterrent, the Ministry of Defence must complete three critical infrastructure projects, valued at £2.5 billion, on its nuclear-regulated sites. It has made some progress, with the MENSA facility to assemble and disassemble nuclear weapons and the CPC facilities now taking shape. However, these three projects experienced problems in their earlier and riskier stages, with a cumulative £1.35 billion cost increase and delays of between 1.7 and 6.3 years. Given the interdependencies across different elements of the Nuclear Enterprise, such delays have broader implications which the Department must manage.

The challenges with these projects were not unique. It is therefore disappointing to see that in their early days the MoD made the same mistakes, also experienced by others, as were made more than 30 years ago. To secure value for money, the Department should have managed the inherent challenges of these projects, such as not starting construction too soon and allowing some flexibility, as well as addressing the risk of not having a statutory role to agree cost-effective designs. In not doing so, the MoD’s early management of these projects has not delivered value for money. More recently, the MoD has started to get to grips with the challenges through revised commercial, regulatory and governance arrangements, although it is too early to tell whether these will be effective.

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