Whitehall officials will undergo training programmes before being allowed to run major public projects like the new high-speed rail link or the NHS IT project, ministers have said.

Francis Maude wants to cut government reliance on outside consultants by training up senior civil servants in how to run complex and costly schemes.

The Cabinet Office minister is launching a Major Projects Leadership Academy, which will be set up with Oxford University’s Said Business School and will be mandatory for all officials charged with delivering key schemes.

Mr Maude said: “When it comes to major projects, this government means business. Taxpayers need to know that major projects will be delivered on time and to budget.

“We do have impressive expertise in the public sector at the moment, but we want to take a long-term view and build this within Whitehall.

“Crucially, this will relinquish taxpayers from having to foot the bill for external consultancy to deliver the projects and services the country needs.”

Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service, said: “The civil service is about a lot more than policy - it’s about implementation and delivery - making a real difference to people’s lives.

“I believe passionately in the ability of the civil service to drive through these big projects, without always having to turn to expensive external consultants.”