Nichols was commissioned personally by the Secretary of State for Transport to carry out a strategic review of the cost of the major highway schemes. Our report and subsequent recommendations redefined England’s roads programme and our approach was highly respected by the client.

The 2007 Secretary of State for Transport established a Targeted Programme of Improvements to provide greater focus on the delivery of major highway schemes. Just 15 months since entry into the programme, the projected cost of some schemes had risen by 300%. Initial estimates for the overall programme, which had put the cost at around £12bn, had risen by over 18%.


Nichols was commissioned to undertake a review of the Highways Agency’s approach to estimating and its cost reporting for its major highway schemes. The Secretary of State for Transport wanted to know the reasons for the cost increases and to avoid similar increases in the future.

Our experts approached the brief under three main workstreams. Governance, the nature of the roads programme and the agency’s capability relating to estimating, procurement, delivery and risk management.

Connecting Britain – Review for
the Secretary of State

The review was carried out in a complex stakeholder environment and included consultation with many parties, including the Department for Transport, the Highways Agency and other consultants, contractors and teams from the National Audit Office. Our authoritative, supportive and reassuring style was highly respected at all levels.

The Nichols Report was published in 2007 by The Rt Hon Douglas Alexander, then Secretary of State for Transport, and led to a series of recommendations. These included significant changes in governance within and between Department for Transport and the Highways Agency, a restructuring and redefining of the roads programme and a strengthening of the Highways Agency’s delivery capability.


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