The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) must use lessons from its recent welfare reforms to improve how it handles change, the National Audit Office (NAO) has said in a report.
The report warns that the DWP often has clear vision at a high level, but thinks too late about indicators for understanding progress and performance, as with Personal Independence Payments.
The DWP's changes to the Universal Credit scheme will need to reconcile the more flexible approach now being taken with the requirement to monitor progress against milestones the NAO warned.
Despite high-profile failings, the NAO report found that many reforms had come in "without significant operational problems".
The DWP's reactive approach rather than anticipating possible failings and lack of measurement of performance and progress has been highlighted as an area where the DWP must make changes.
Amyas Morse, head of the NAO said: "Any large portfolio of reforms will run into problems. The Department has shown a resolute approach to dealing with them.
"However, we think it has relied too much on dealing with difficulties as they emerge rather than anticipating what might go wrong.
"As a result it has had to learn some hard lessons with significant financial and human costs. "It is important that the Department use these hard lessons to improve how it manages change and anticipates risk."