Scottish Public Finance Manual

The Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM) is issued by the Scottish Ministers to provide guidance on the proper handling and reporting of public funds.

FGN 2018/09 SPFM amendments: September 2018


The purpose of this note is to announce recent amendments to the Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM). The amendments are as follows:

Major Investment Projects: title, definition and application of mandatory assurance

This section of the SPFM relates to the procurement, management and monitoring of the delivery of major investments. The guidance should be considered mandatory by the core Scottish Government (SG), SG Executive Agencies, non-ministerial departments and SG sponsored bodies.

The previous definition of a major investment project was a threshold value. This was a simple criterion that did not always identify the projects with the highest level of risk and uncertainty and most in need of independent assurance.

To improve the identification of the highest risk and most complex major investments, a wider set of characteristics have been introduced. They provide an overall assessment based on a number of criteria such as value, complexity and impact of Programme for Government commitments.

This should reduce the likelihood of highly complex and innovative projects, but small in terms of investment, missing out on the support available through independent assurance and related offerings for Senior Responsible Owners.

This approach is consistent with the definition used by UK Government Treasury.

Specific areas of interest are;

  • Definition – the definition has been broadened to include criteria around complexity, innovation, impact and risk. Assessment for independent assurance is now required for investments falling within those new criteria.
  • Risk Potential Assessment (RPA) – All investments are now required to complete and submit an RPA form. Independent assurance remains only mandatory for investments with a High risk score.
  • SRO Appointment Letter – a template is now provided.

Other organisations to which the SPFM is directly applicable – including separate accounting bodies sponsored by the SG – should have appropriate assurance frameworks consistent with the guidance in place.

Programmes and projects reporting to SG governance boards, such as the Infrastructure Investments Board (IIB), may be subject to additional requirements under other criteria as defined by that board.

Scottish Government Programme and Project Management Centre of Expertise

September 2018


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