Policy

Managing major projects more effectively

Issue

The government’s major projects portfolio has a total lifetime cost stretching over £350 billion. Major government projects carry a high risk and require capable management: we need to deliver these efficiently and effectively. In the past, mistakes made in major projects management have not been made public; it’s important that government now publishes an honest and transparent evaluation of its major projects and supports departments in carrying them out.

Actions

We created the major projects team to help support any government department that is carrying out a major project. The major projects team covers 2 areas - the Major Projects Authority (set up in 2011) and construction.

Major Projects Authority

We aim to help deliver the right projects in an effective and efficient way, maximising the benefits of government investment. To achieve this we:

  • provide government with a regular report on progress of the entire portfolio of major projects and programmes across all government departments approve the required Integrated Assurance and Approval Plans (IAAPs) for each major project or programme
  • provide oversight and scrutiny at important stages of projects to make sure that they will be completed on time, to cost and to the desired quality
  • where necessary, provide professional and specialist expertise to help get projects back on track
  • provide publicly available reports on the portfolio of major projects

The first annual report, published in May 2013, set out the actions the MPA is taking to improve the way major government projects are supported and delivered.

Major Projects Leadership Academy

Created in 2012, the Major Projects Leadership Academy has been developed and is run in partnership with the Saïd Oxford Business School and Deloitte.

The academy will build the skills of senior project leaders across government, making it easier to carry out complex projects effectively. This will reduce the need for expensive professional advice from outside government, while strengthening skills within the civil service.

We aim to have had all major project leaders started on the academy’s programme by 2015. In the future, no one will be able to lead a major government project without completing the academy programme.

Construction

We aim to reduce the unit capital cost of construction by up to 20% by the end of the current Parliament (2015). We will reduce cost, maintain quality, improve skills and increase innovation by:

  • setting benchmarks to ensure central and local government costs are transparent: knowing what projects should cost helps the market to stay competitive between suppliers
  • committing to fair and prompt payment through Project Bank Accounts to help boost liquidity in businesses, in particular smaller businesses in supply chains
  • using digital technologies that support the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) on new centrally procured public sector construction projects by 2016
  • publishing pipelines of future work to open up new investment and business opportunities
  • improving the performance of built assets, eg by using Soft Landings methods, to make sure that the asset provides good value for money during its use
  • building capability through new and improved models of construction procurement
  • sharing best practice from our initiatives with the wider public sector and devolved administrations

Background

Francis Maude announced the creation of the Major Projects Authority (MPA) in 2011. The MPA is part of the Cabinet Office and has been given authority by the Prime Minister to oversee and direct the effective management of all large-scale projects that are funded by central government.

The MPA aims to address the findings from the National Audit Office (NAO) report ‘Assurance of high risk projects’ and from the Major Projects Review, both published in 2010. In ‘Assurance for major projects’, published in 2012, the NAO found that the MPA had already made a significant difference to major projects but there is more to do.

Who we’re working with

The MPA works with all departments across government to help improve and increase the success of projects. The MPA works mostly with:

  • Ministry of Defence (MoD)
  • Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
  • Home Office (HO)
  • HM Treasury (HMT)
  • Department of Health (DH)
  • Department for Transport (DfT)
  • Infrastructure UK (IUK)
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)

The construction team works with the following departments to help identify the construction pipeline, develop data and benchmarking, run trial projects and share best practice in construction:

  • MoD
  • MoJ
  • DH
  • DfT including Highways Agency (HA)
  • Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) including Environment Agency (EA)
  • Department for Education (DfE) including Education Funding Agency (EFA)
  • Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)
  • Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)

The Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd, and the Chief Construction Advisor, Peter Hansford, work with the construction team and the following departments to make sure that strategies work with policy and legislative changes, carry out reforms in both the infrastructure and construction industries and to implement the greening government commitments:

  • Business, Skills and Innovation (BIS)
  • HMT / Infrastructure UK (IUK)
  • DWP / Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • DEFRA
  • Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS)
  • DECC

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