The HM Treasury Green Book is the main document that sets out government guidance on the appraisal of public investments, it reviews how to appraise policies, programs and other projects. HM Treasury Green Book gives guidance to ensure that policies, programs and projects adopted are the best ways to achieve policy objectives and make the best use of public resources.
At any one time, there’s about £500bn worth of major projects going on, funded by the government. The biggest chunk of these are managed by Infrastructure Projects Agency (IPA) and these are mainly in construction (new transport links/ road and rail; hospitals and schools; government buildings) and ICT (NHS Digital programmes, government cybersecurity). These are big projects; they include a lot of different services – not just construction or IT companies, but strategic consultancy, catering, uniforms, project management, supply chain management, agency staffing, and so on. Everyone can be involved in the Supply Chain.
Her Majesty’s Treasury (HM Treasury) has produced a set of guidelines to help those who want to win contracts (you and me, the contractors or subcontractors). These guidelines explain what HM Treasury is looking for in order to approve spend (both at the stage of a business case, and when reviewing a project tranche). These guidelines are summarised in the Treasury Green Book (Appraisal and evaluation in Central Government – Treasury Guidance).
Of course, there are many other guidelines, such as how projects will be managed, how measured (IPA Guide to Benefits Management in Major Projects), how appraised (supplements to the Green Book such as the Aqua Book and Magenta Book). The Green Book is the starting point.
The Treasury Green Book was last updated in November 2018. Green Books have been guiding government policy for nearly half a century, and the last one was 15 years ago. Although not without its faults, there are some significant changes since 2003 and since the 2011 amendments – most notably on the concept of social value.
The Green Book 2003 has precisely zero mentions of social value. 2018 edition mentions social value 76 times including Net Present Social Value 19 times (‘NPSV’ the acronym 36 times) in 132 pages. Social value is suddenly top of the government’s agenda, and it applies to a lot of government spend.
You may not be in the running to be a prime contractor for HS2 – but the Treasury Green Book puts emphasis on the whole supply chain, and you are likely to have opportunities as a subcontractor, to get your share.