Conclusions and recommendations |
1. The first two projects, the Royal Research
Ship James Cook and the Diamond Synchrotron (Phase 1), have been
delivered largely to time and budget but other projects still
at an early stage are forecasting slippage.
The Department, working with the Research Councils, should require
project teams to study and apply the lessons learned from existing
projects, for example by using incentives in contracts, and effective
risk sharing. Project teams should be required, through the Gateway
process, to consider explicitly these issues when taking forward
2. Five of the six most mature projects have
forecast significant increases in the initial estimates for operating
costs, two in excess of 80%. Research
Councils should draw upon wider experience in the private and
public sectors, for example in the Ministry of Defence, and require
the preparation of more robust estimates of whole-life costs at
an early stage. They should give explicit consideration to through-life
costs when approving the design of new facilities.
3. The Research Councils have had difficulty
recruiting the project management expertise needed to deliver
some projects. Research Councils should
have regard to the significant impact such expertise can have
on the achievement of value for money overall, and the high cost
of using consultants should direct recruitment fail. Research
Councils should jointly develop a cadre of project management
expertise and seek to share these skills as new projects are taken
4. The 10-15 year road map of facilities which
the Research Councils expect to be needed provides a structure
for identifying priorities, but at present there is limited input
from the wider scientific community and industry.
There is a risk of leaving decisions on the selection of new facilities
in the hands of a small group of scientists without input from
the wider community. The Department and Research Councils should
draw upon expertise available in the broader scientific community
and industry, to contribute to key points in the decision-making
5. Research Councils have not always sufficiently
evaluated options for locating new scientific facilities. If
there is a choice of location, the Department should be explicit
about the criteria to be used by Research Councils in assessing
6. Research Councils have sometimes had difficulty
in attracting a sufficient number of bidders for contracts to
help build new facilities. Research Councils
should educate potential suppliers on the opportunities likely
to be available in assisting the construction of new facilities.
To overcome misplaced or unnecessary concerns about the technical
demands of such projects, they should brief them on the varied
content of the available work, and where possible package the
work so as to broaden the range of potential contractors.
7. Little is known, in the UK or internationally,
about the economic impact of hosting large scientific facilities.
The Department and Research Councils should
place greater emphasis on assessing both the immediate benefit
to the local economy and the potential impact on the national
pool of technical skills. The Department should track the economic
impact of the current group of large-scale facilities and draw
lessons for the development of future facilities.
8. Performance indicators used by the Research
Councils and project teams for monitoring the success of these
facilities are not always sufficiently comprehensive or measurable.
Before approving the business case for a new facility, the Department
and Research Councils should establish indicators to enable the
success of the project to be measured. Measures should include
the extent to which available capacity is utilised.
9. Research Councils need to make better use
of the potential these facilities offer to inspire the next generation
of scientists. The Department and the
Research Councils should have plans in place specifying how these
facilities might bring the wider community into contact with science
and encourage the choice of scientific studies, qualifications