Government Projects

Over-optimism and government stakeholders

Are you over-optimistic about your stakeholders?

The UK National Audit office (NAO) lists over-optimism, including over-optimism about stakeholders as one of the key factors behind the failure of government projects.

In their December 2013 report, Over-optimism in Government Projects the NAO listed stakeholder as a particular risk area.

The report found that government projects require involvement from a variety of organisations and bodies. These stakeholders often have widely varying aspirations and requirements (NAO, 2013, pg 8).

Typical government stakeholders

stakeholders on government projects

They noted that Government tends to be over-optimistic about:
  • the time it will take to for sufficient stakeholder engagement
  • the project team's ability to align the different views
  • the behaviours of groups – government project teams tend to make assumptions about the behaviours of groups over whom they have no direct control.
  • their level of understanding of the stakeholders. This leads to failure to understand the impact and value added by the stakeholders.

FiReControl Project - Over-optimism about stakeholder buy-in leads to project failure

The National Audit Office report gives an example of the FiReControl project where the project failed to get the support of key stakeholders the local fire& rescue services.

Over-optimism about stakeholder buy-in led to the project being cancelled with a loss of at least £482 million.

About the National Audit Office

The National Audit Office (NAO) is a UK body that scrutinises spending on behalf of parliament. Each year they publish value for money studies reviewing government projects, programmes and imitative and providing recommendations for improvement.

References for Government projects - stakeholder optimism

NAO, 2013, Over-optimism in Government Projects Available online at

Stakeholder Management resources

Government stakeholders - a list of potential stakeholders on government projects

Stakeholder analysis templates in Word, Visio and Excel.

Stakeholder Analysis - How to analyse stakeholders

Internal Stakeholders - how to identify your Internal Stakeholders

Stakeholders - who are the Key Players? - Some Stakeholders are really important. How do you find them and get them on your side before they can do any damage?

Project stakeholders - typical stakeholders on a project

Stakeholder list - a generic list of stakeholders. Stakeholder mindmap - a mindmap showing stakeholders for an IT project.


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