Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

GO Lab-CIPFA Value for Money (VfM) Toolkit

A free assessment tool to improve public finance management

Public bodies are under growing scrutiny to demonstrate the 'value' of their expenditures – even more so with the budgetary pressures brought on by the pandemic. Many are turning towards outcomes-based contracts (OBC) and impact bonds to do so. CIPFA has partnered with the University of Oxford's Government Outcomes Lab (GO Lab) to develop a toolkit to assess the value for money (VfM) of such outcome-based programmes.

Tools for public managers and other practitioners

The toolkit, accompanying guidance document, and case study are available for free download and use:

How does it work?

In OBCs, services are contracted out and payment directly linked to the contractor's success in meeting targets (as opposed to the volume or quality of outputs). This is generally believed to allow greater flexibility around certain service activities, and to promote innovation.

Until recently there have been no strict guidelines around demonstrating the value for money of outcome-oriented programmes. The GO Lab-CIPFA Value for Money Toolkit is intended to fill that gap, using the National Audit Office's definition of VfM, by analysing prospective information.

What can the toolkit do?

This toolkit:

  • provides a framework for thinking and learning about the economic validity of public programmes
  • offers a self-assessment instrument for testing expectations
  • promotes thinking about longer-term effects of interventions

This toolkit will not:

  • provide a comprehensive stand-alone source for decision making
  • offer a framework to support the choice of a service delivery model; this will be part of another framework we intend to develop in the future

Join our peer learning group

If you are interested in learning more about VfM analysis, or would like to discuss and explore ways to improve value creation of public expenditure, please join our Value in Public Finance peer learning group (PLG). The PLG is a community of individuals and organisations interested in improving public finance and how economies perform. It meets quarterly and is co-organised by the GO Lab and CIPFA.

Contact us

The toolkit and guidance report are in beta versions and open for public comment, and we welcome your feedback. Please email mehdi.shiva@bsg.ox.ac.uk or jeffrey.matsu@cipfa.org.