Economic Appraisal (EA) Guidance and Templates

All proposals to incur expenditure should be subject to a comprehensive, but proportionate business case/economic appraisal.

Preparing a Business Case/Economic Appraisal

In order to assist with the completion of Business Cases and Economic Appraisals, the Department has developed a series of templates designed to reflect the principle of proportionate effort that should be applied at various expenditure levels.

All business cases/economic appraisals should be prepared in accordance with The Northern Ireland Guide to Expenditure Appraisal and Evaluation (NIGEAE). This was issued under FD (DFP) 20/09 and supersedes the NI Practical Guide to the Green Book. 

The most recent guidance for consultancy projects (ie when engaging consultants) can be accessed on the Department of Finance (DoF) website via the following link:


The relevant pro forma for consultancy projects can be accessed via the following link:

Templates for DfE limits listed below are at Economic Appraisal forms:

  • EA up to £4,999
  • EA £5000 - £250,000
  • EA £250,000 - £1,000,000
  • EA £1,000,000 - £5,000,000

Projects involving expenditure over £5m can use the template for £1m-£5m, and add more detail in proportion to the level of expenditure. This means that the economic appraisal will have a page length that is longer than the blank template – in accordance with the principle of proportionate effort.

The amount of detail required will depend on the complexity of the project as well as the level of expenditure. It is also possible to use a plain document as long as it includes the headings (and provides the information requested) in the template for £1m to £5m.

DfE Delegations

Proposed level of expenditure  Level of approval required for all DfE 
0 to £0.25m Grade 6 or Grade 7
greater than £0.25m to £1m Grade 5
greater than £1m to £5m Grade 3
greater than £5m Grade 3, Casework Committee scrutiny, Permanent Secretary, and Ministerial approval.
Expenditure that is novel, contentious, repercussive, sets a precedent (or subject to Ministerial Direction) irrespective of level of expenditure Grade 3, Casework Committee scrutiny (if appropriate following consideration by the Finance and Corporate Governance Directors), Permanent Secretary and Ministerial approval.
Exceptions Consultants
Ministerial approval required in all cases above this amount  £10,000

Note 1:  Areas requiring DOF Approval for all Departments are documented in DAO (DFP) 06/12 Departmental Delegations/Requirements for DFP Approval

Note 2:  Delegated limits should be applied to the total central government monies required (inclusive of irrecoverable Value Added Tax)

Note 3:  Delegated limits should also be applied to proposals which will result in a positive result. Future savings yielded through an ‘invest to save’ type project should be ignored in applying delegated limits.

DfE Economist Contacts


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