Annex A: Case studies

We are learning from our own lessons to inform improvements on our own projects:

The National Citizen Service

Lead department: Cabinet Office

National Citizen Service

National Citizen Service

“From taking part in the National Citizen Service project I have become more confident and independent as well as learning many lifelong skills. I would recommend it to others, particularly as there’s much competition for jobs and university places. I feel like this has given me something to put on my CV to help impress employers.”

Feedback from a participant

The National Citizen Service (NCS) is a personal and social development programme for 16 and 17 year olds, a flagship Government initiative implemented by the Prime Minister. NCS aims to promote:

  • a more cohesive society by mixing participants from very different backgrounds;
  • a more responsible society by supporting the transition into adulthood and the development of essential skills for employment (teamwork, leadership, communication) as well as further education and training; and
  • a more engaged society by enabling young people to work together to create social action projects in their local communities.

These core objectives underpin the NCS ethos: “we believe in the power of young people to change the world if only given the tools and opportunity”. The Government aims to make the NCS a rite of passage for every teenager.

The design of the programme

The main programme takes place in the summer and lasts 3 weeks.The first week takes place away from home, with participants taking part in challenging, outward bound activities. The second week is also residential, but back in the local community, often in university halls of residence. During this week participants learn new skills and find out how they can make a difference in their communities. The final part of the programme sees participants develop a social action project of their own to deal with a local issue they’re passionate about, and spend 30 hours putting the project into action in their community. This includes Dragon’s Den style fundraising sessions.

The statistics and budget

The Cabinet Office delivered pilots for up to 10,000 places in 2011 and up to 30,000 in 2012. During 2013 and 2014 there will be a step change in the delivery of NCS, with up to 50,000 places available in 2013, and the Prime Minister has made a public commitment to offer 90,000 places in 2014. Contracts for 2 years valuing £200 million have now been assigned for the delivery of the programme for 2013 to 2014. These are with 8 lead providers who will be delivering NCS in 19 regions across England. Some 120 local voluntary and public sector organisations will benefit directly from delivering NCS next year.

The pilots have been rigorously evaluated by an independent consortium led by the National Centre for Social Research. The interim report was published in May 2012, and showed that programme was highly successful in its first year.

Headline findings are:

  • For every £1 invested in NCS, the programme delivers up to £2 returns. This is based on the value of social action and improved educational outcomes and does not include many of the societal benefits, such as reductions in antisocial behaviour and increased well-being.
  • The most significant impact was on ‘work-ready’ skills, in particular teamwork, leadership and communication.
  • The proportion of young people saying they were planning to continue in education after NCS increased from 27% to 34%.
  • 95% of young people reported that NCS gave them the chance to develop useful skills for the future.
  • 85% of participants said that NCS had made them aware of more education or employment opportunities.
  • 77% of participants said that following NCS they were more likely to help out locally.
  • Over 90% of participants agreed that NCS had given them the chance to know people they wouldn’t normally mix with.

Feedback from those involved so far

Overall, media coverage has been very positive. Anecdotal feedback from participants, staff and parents has been overwhelmingly positive.

What has gone well on the project?

Following the Gateway™ Review 0 and Starting Gate in April 2012, and lessons learned from the 2011 to 2012 pilots, the programme has made some changes to the management of the programme and the format of the delivery.

2014 to 2015 delivery: business case – in compliance with Cabinet Office procurement, this supported the successful award of 2 year contracts to providers following an open competition.

Programme Office

The NCS programme now has a fully dedicated Programme Management Office, headed up by a PRINCE2 qualified programme manager. A full suite of programme plans are now in place, which provide a 3 tier view of key milestones from the high level road map to individual workstream/project plans and detailed activity plans. The Programme Office also controls weekly, monthly and quarterly reporting as well as the weekly management of risk and issues, finance, stakeholder engagement, governance (including board secretariat) and document retention.

Team skills and specialist resource

In addition to the set-up of a formal programme management office, the programme has attracted a range of skills and expertise to management the development and delivery of the two key business cases outlined above, specifically commercial, procurement, legal and economic expertise to support the 2013 delivery and the IMB set-up workstreams.

What has the department learned and taken forward as a result of MPA assurance?

The MPA has been instrumental in supporting the NCS programme leaders and the SRO by helping to:

  • define the NCS programme as a priority programme;
  • set up a process of activity reviews, commencing with the Starting Gate Review in April 2012;
  • address the Starting Gate recommendations – particularly in establishing the new Programme Office and development of the associated programme management processes; and
  • streamline the reporting requirements to remove duplication and unnecessary burden on the team.

What value has the MPA added?

The MPA has continually supported the NCS programme with planning, co-ordination and provision of assurance activities as the programme expanded during 2012. More recently it has been invaluable with support and advice  and with assurance around the appropriate timing and alignment of decision-making to inform business case approvals by the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury.

Overall, this has given senior Cabinet Office directors and the Accounting Officers greater assurance that controls around the programme’s delivery and risk management are robust, transparent and effectively managed.

Our assurance moves projects on to deliver better project outcomes:

The Francis Crick Institute

Lead department: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Creating some biomedical cultures

Creating some biomedical cultures

This programme is constructing The Francis Crick Institute (‘The Crick’) which, when completed and in operation, will become a world leading centre of biomedical research and innovation. The Crick is a joint venture between the UK’s largest biomedical research and academic institutions: the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, The Wellcome Trust, University College London, Imperial College London and King’s College London. Employing 1,500 staff, of which 1,250 will be scientists, and with an operating budget of over £100 million, The Crick will, on completion in 2015, provide a capability with the scale, vision and scientific expertise that competes with major new overseas developments.

The design of the building, next to St Pancras station in central London, is unique in bringing together scientific research facilities in a constrained urban environment. This location has demanded a sensitive approach to both the design and the construction of the building.

In bringing together a breadth of world class science, The Crick aims to sustain the UK’s position as a leader in biomedical research and to engage in some of the most challenging scientific research questions facing the world today, such as the treatment of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurological disorders. At the same time, The Crick will provide an excellent training environment for biomedical researchers.

What has gone well on the project?

The construction on the programme has successfully kept to both time and budget, despite the volatile economic environment. This has been in the main due to efficient cost planning, with the responsibility shared with the contractor. This collaborative approach has produceda good partnership between The Crick and the contractor that has certainly helped to maintain momentum.

What value has the MPA added?

While reviewing the programme the MPA found many examples of good practice in respect of the way that the construction has been carried out and it is intended that the lessons learned can be shared and used across other Government projects.

The MPA, and its predecessor the Office of Government Commerce, have undertaken six reviews of The Crick since 2006, and during this time the recommendations provided by these reviews have helped to improve the planning of an all-embracing change programme, alongside the construction programme, to ensure the high level strategic economic, health and social benefits that are important to the UK as a whole can be realised.

The MPA acts as a critical friend by asking challenging questions:

The UK Green Investment Bank

Lead department: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)

Green Investment Bank

Green Investment Bank

The Government is determined to set the UK firmly on course towards a green and growing economy. The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is a key component of this transition. The Bank’s mission is to provide financial solutions to accelerate private sector investment in the UK’s transition to a green economy. It works toward a ‘double bottom line’ of achieving both significant green impact and sound financial returns. The Bank is funded with £3 billion from the Government to the end of the financial year 2014 to 2015.

The first bank of its kind in the world, it became commercially operational in October 2012, with headquarters in Edinburgh and a London office, and was formally launched by the Business Secretary in November 2012. The Bank has committed £635 million to date across a number of green sectors such as offshore wind and waste. These transactions include:

  • £80 million allocated to two fund managers, Foresight Group (£50 million) and Greensphere Capital (£30 million), to invest in smaller waste projects.
  • £100 million allocated to two fund managers, Equitix (£50 million) and Sustainable Capital Development Limited (£50 million), to invest in smaller non-domestic energy efficiency projects.
  • £45.6 million of senior debt to Walney offshore wind farm, located off Cumbria.
  • £100 million of senior debt to Drax power station in Selby to convert units from coal to biomass.
  • £30.4 million of senior debt to finance the construction of a waste treatment plant at Wakefield, Yorkshire.

What has gone well on the project?

  • Strong leadership and strategic direction within BIS.
  • A pragmatic project management approach, which effectively led to delivery on time and to specification. The roles and responsibilities within BIS’s policy team were clearly defined, and team members had previous experience of the areas they led on.
  • The GIB achieved state aid approval in 17 months from first engagement with the European Commission, with the Commission not opening an investigation. As this was a complicated case, this was a great achievement.

“I am grateful to the GIB team here in BIS, who proved that an ambitious project such as this could be delivered to time, despite challenging policy and operational issues, through their commitment and expertise.”
Mark Russell, outgoing SRO

What has the department learned and taken forward as a result of MPA assurance?

  • The pre-launch review in June 2012 was especially helpful in providing assurance and identifying areas to concentrate on for the final months of the project, in particular meeting the ‘criteria for success’ which formed a fundamental part of the MPA process.
  • More generally, MPA assurance has highlighted the importance of strengthening internal governance, for example establishing stronger project delivery mechanisms.
  • There should be a greater emphasis on defining benefits and monitoring plans.

What value has the MPA added?

The MPA has played the valuable role of critical friend to the GIB project, by independently asking challenging questions and adding informed insights at pivotal stages of its lifecycle.

“I would like to thank David Pitchford, and his team, for their thoroughness throughout the assurance processes. It is commendable how quickly he and his team have built up their understanding of the project’s dynamics and were able to offer incisive advice at each stage.”
Mark Russell, outgoing SRO

Ensuring best risk and change management practice:

The Digital TV Switchover Programme (DSO)

Lead department: Department for Culture, Media and Sport

The Crystal Palace transmitter following Digital Switchover in London

The Crystal Palace transmitter following Digital Switchover in London

The goal of the programme was to switch TV in the UK to digital by October 2012 in a way that made it a simple and positive experience for viewers, and to provide switchover assistance to older and disabled people. DSO has brought digital terrestrial TV to nearly all households for the first time, increasing the choice of affordable digital TV options. Digital transmission is also a more efficient way to transmit TV signals, and frees up valuable radio spectrum that can be used for new services such as super-fast mobile broadband (4G) or more TV channels.

The programme at June 2012 was successful in meeting the timetable and the agreed critical success factors, and was on track to deliver significant savings, with:

  • more than 1,154 transmitter sites re-engineered consumer communications helping to achieve very high levels of awareness;
  • the successful governance of a highly complex programme based on a partnership of Digital UK (a not-for-profit company established specifically to co-ordinate the delivery), Government, Ofcom and the BBC;
  • the successful engagement of an exceptionally diverse range of stakeholders, from charities to industry, as a result of intensive preparation;
  • support for all viewers, with the BBC Switchover Help Scheme providing practical help to convert one TV to digital for 75s and over, those in a care home or those who are blind or partially slighted; and
  • a common understanding of the programme’s aim and concerns among all the partners and stakeholders.

What has the department learned and taken forward as a result of MPA assurance?

  • Effective and sustained implementation of best programme management practice was recognised by the MPA as ‘rigorous with risk and issues identified and regularly reviewed’.
  • Shorter, more targeted communications campaigns worked well.
  • Local campaigns with community engagement were effective.

What value has the MPA added?

  • From 2002 regular Gateway™ Review 0s have provided the necessary assurance to Government that the programme objectives were still valid, planning and delivery were on track and complacency did not set in.
  • The MPA played a mentoring role in helping to develop the unique shared style of governance of the programme.
  • Its recommendations, fully implemented, included more ministerial engagement and a formally recognised ‘critical friend’ to the programme.
  • The MPA emphasis on good practice, both operational and strategic, in 2005 and 2007 led to stronger processes, including risk and issue management, and enhanced change controls.
  • The MPA’s consistent support for the ‘single delivery’ model helped to ensure that the programme was never diverted from the objectives it was established to deliver.

The Governments Major Projects Portfolio includes some of the biggest infrastructure projects:

Thameslink Programme

Lead department: Department for Transport

Blackfriars Station

Blackfriars Station

The Thameslink Programme is a £6.2 billion project making fundamental, far-reaching changes to transport in London and the South East of England. It aims to provide an enhanced mainline rail service to the existing route running north­south through London from Bedford to Brighton, by improving capacity via new, more frequent and longer trains and big improvements to central London stations by 2018.

The programme seeks to reduce overcrowding on the current Thameslink service and on other commuter services, including the London Underground. It will also help the flow of passengers between mainline and Underground train services and provide for the introduction of new cross-London services.

Passenger benefits from the infrastructure investment have already materialised with the opening of a modernised station at Blackfriars in December 2011. This is the first London station to span the Thames, with a new entrance on the south bank of the river. Farringdon station has also been upgraded to become a modern, spacious station, with a new ticket hall for Thameslink and,­ in the future,­ Crossrail services. Twelve carriage trains have been put into service and are already running on part of the route, enhancing capacity significantly.

What went well?

  • Rigorous cost control of infrastructure works achieving delivery of the first phase of works, including Blackfriars and Farringdon stations, within budget.
  • On time delivery of the two primary first phase infrastructure milestones – 12 car operations in December 2011 and a new timetable in May 2013.

What value has the MPA added?

  • MPA has provided the necessary assurance to Government that the programme objectives were still valid, planning and delivery were on track and rigorous cost control was maintained.
  • The MPA played a supporting role in helping to develop the cross-industry and cross-departmental governance required by this complex programme.
  • The MPA emphasis on good practice, both operational and strategic, have led to stronger processes, including enhanced risk and issue management, and change controls.