Progress to date: facts and figures

Transparency policy

In this report, for the first time, the MPA is publishing aggregate performance data for the GMPP portfolio. Simultaneously, departments are publishing on their websites information on each of their projects. These will include the MPA’s RAG rating, the department’s actions to address the RAG rating, and other project related data on cost and schedule. Both the MPA RAG and project performance data are based on the position as at quarter 2 2012/13, which covers June-September 2012. The actions described by departments are from that period to date.

The policy allows for appropriate levels of non-disclosure of information which should properly remain confidential, for example where it is market sensitive or necessary to safeguard national security. This will be in line with the principles of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

There will be a six month time lag between the submission of the information and its first publication, to provide a period for departments to take action in response to the MPA ratings. The relevant GMPP data for the report is from quarter 2 of the year 2012 to 2013, which covers June-September of that period.

The Government’s Major Projects Portfolio

The MPA, in partnership with HM Treasury and departments, has established the Government’s Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP), agreeing a priority list of around 200 major projects covering all the main Government departments. These projects include infrastructure, education, IT and Government change programmes. At quarter 2 2012/13, the GMPP contained 191 of the Government’s major projects. At that point, the total aggregated, budgeted, whole life costs of these 191 major projects was £353.7 billion.

Case study: Thameslink

What is it?

The Thameslink Programme is a £6.2 billion transformative transport project for London and the South East of England. It aims to provide an enhanced mainline rail service to the existing route running north­-south through London from Bedford to Brighton. There will be improved capacity via new, more frequent and longer trains, and big improvements to central London stations by 2018.

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 lead to stronger processes, including enhanced risk and issue management, and change controls.

Departmental aggregated project whole life costs (£m) (with exemptions)

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GMPP aggregated RAG distribution (with exemptions)

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Across the portfolio the overall distribution of the Red­ Amber­ Green (RAG) ratings given to the 191 major projects is shown in the chart above: 32 projects are Green, 49 Amber/Green, 58 Amber, 23 Amber/Red and 8 Red.

Levels of turnover and development of the SRO role

Effective, consistent project leadership is vital to successful delivery, but data collected by the MPA shows that the levels of turnover of senior responsible officers (SROs) and project directors (PDs) are consistently higher than expected.

There are times when change is beneficial, for example to align skill sets with project requirements, but more often, change at the most senior levels causes delay and instability, as well as interrupting effective implementation at important stages.

In the year 2012 to 2013, the percentage of turnover was 15% for SROs and 9% for PDs in GMPP quarter 2, this was up 2% for SROs and down 7% for PDs compared with the first quarter of 2012/13 but is still high, and clearly has the potential to affect successful delivery.

GMPP data has also shown that best practice (1 SRO and 1 PD full time on every major project) is not being followed across Government. Only 7 SROs are collectively responsible for 15% of the GMPP projects by number and 19% of the GMPP total spend at quarter 2 2012 to 2013; and 7 PDs are collectively responsible for 9% of the GMPP by number and 11% of the GMPP value spend.

To address this the MPA has put in place measures towards ensuring that SROs and PDs are fully trained, supported and retained; not least with the Major Projects Leadership Academy (MPLA).

Improving project leadership

“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. The Leadership Academy will provide them with the skills and tools they need to manage these programmes successfully, ensuring they are delivered on time and on budget.”

Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the UK Civil Service, February 2012

The MPLA was established to address a common cause of major project failure. Its remit is to radically improve the quality of project leadership among the leaders of the biggest projects and cascade learning across Government.

The MPLA, designed and delivered in partnership with the Saїd Business School University of Oxford and Deloitte, is attended to address leadership issues and their effect on project performance. Its curriculum is based on analysis of the issues raised by MPA review recommendations on projects in the GMPP, along with research into the common issues found in delivering complex projects in the public and private sectors, domestically and internationally.

Launched in February 2012, the MPLA will significantly improve the quality of major project leadership at the heart of Government reduce over-reliance on external consultants, elevate the status of the project delivery profession and develop a cadre of world class major project leaders supported by a peer group of exceptional quality and experience.

The MPLA programme is on track to bring back world class project leadership capability to Whitehall. To date more than 90 project leaders have commenced training at the Academy to date, meaning that the MPA is on track to meet the Civil Service Reform Plan aim for more than 340 GMPP project leaders to have commenced the programme by the end of 2014. The first cohort has completed the academy programme and their experience has been invaluable as we inform and refine the programme further. The ultimate aim is that only project leaders who have successfully completed this intensive development programme will be able to lead a major project.

The MPLA will cultivate a better understanding of the role of leadership, technical delivery skills and commercial capability in successful delivery and, most importantly, how to set up projects to succeed from the outset. This will be achieved through working with world-class academics and practitioners from both the public and private sectors. The programme actively encourages project leaders to discuss their individual challenges and to strive for excellence in their own leadership capability and project performance. Crucially, it also  actively encourages leaders to cascade the learning within their department.

SROs and PDs will be trained to operate as Chief Executive Officers and Chief Operational Officers of temporary organisations formed specifically to run a project, rather than simply as large scale project managers. They will be given the authority and accountability to change the implementation of Government policy. The benchmark for this is the project leader competency framework that the MPLA has specifically designed for the programme.

Non-Executive Directors have been appointed to the Boards of each government department to help them operate in a more businesslike way. Non-Executive Directors will play an active role in supporting MPLA participants. Their influence is also vital to improving delivery of Government’s major projects by increasing scrutiny in departmental boards before projects are fully implemented.

The Academy also includes dedicated workshops for Permanent Secretaries, to support their role in creating the right context and operating environment for successful projects.

Civil Service Project Leaders Network

The Civil Service Project Leaders Network (CSPLN), launched in March 2012, supports the work of the MPLA and the Academy alumni. It provides wider access for current and future project leaders to the learning and development activities advocated by the Academy before, during and after their attendance on the formal programme.

CSPLN brings together on a quarterly basis more than 300 SROs and PDs leading the GMPP projects. The aim is to share learning across departments, build relationships, test ideas and seek views on challenges in their projects as well as hearing from world class guest speakers, who share frank and fearless accounts of their project delivery experience in both the public and private sectors.

The CSPLN supports the elevation of project delivery as a profession to be on a par with the policy profession, building capability in current leaders and succession planning for the future. The network establishes a supportive forum of expert leaders to build the foundation for a genuine profession of project leadership within Whitehall.

The Academy alumni and the CSPLN will establish a flexible pool of expert project leaders who can then be placed across Government to deliver the priority projects.

In his capacity as Head of the Project Delivery profession within Government, David Pitchford oversees the MPA’s work with departments to ensure that there is systematic planning and clarity of project leadership roles, linking posts to milestones or main deliverables, and retaining vital staff during critical phases of project delivery. However, project delivery resources do not stop with the MPA.

Resourcing is also about working together. The MPA is aligned with departments to address project delivery failures of the past and has conducted a review, with Civil Service Learning, of the project delivery profession. This will see the creation of a common curriculum, aligned with the Civil Service Competency Framework, to build excellence in project management. The purpose of the activity conducted by the profession will see the renaming of project and programme management within Government to the Project Delivery profession. In addition, work is underway to look at setting up a new commercial professions group, which will include project delivery, finance, legal and procurement. The MPA is working with departments to optimise the way in which departments organise and resource their project and programme portfolios. The MPA was also actively involved in development of the Civil Service Capabilities Plan and will support its implementation.

HMRC Academy

Following in the footsteps of the MPLA, HM Revenue and Customs is increasing capability of senior and aspiring project and programme management leaders through the development of a project and programme management leadership academy. The Academy will concentrate on the development needs of those who already have significant programme management knowledge and experience but are not yet ready for the MPLA or to lead the larger and more complex projects or programmes.

Through a series of project and programme management themed development events and targeted opportunities to ‘go and see/go and do’, Academy members will further build their knowledge and experience to create the enduring project and programme management leadership capability required and prepare them as future major programme directors and therefore MPLA nominees.

The Academy commenced with a pilot group from HMRC in April 2013 and has been developed in consultation with Civil Service Learning and other government departments to allow it to be rolled out across Whitehall.

Government construction

In January 2013, the team charged with delivering the Government Construction Strategy joined forces with the MPA (as part of the Major Projects Cluster within the Efficiency and Review Group). This team works across central Government departments through the Government Construction Board, chaired by the Chief Construction Adviser. It aims to deliver 15%­ to 20% savings in Government construction by 2015 through the implementation of efficient best practice in construction procurement. Working in close conjunction with the Infrastructure UK Cost Review team, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and departments, a number of initiatives are taking place. New models of procurement are being trialled, Building Information Management (BIM) digital technologies are being implemented, fair payment practices are being championed across the supply chain, and pipeline and benchmark cost data is being collected and shared across Government departments and contracts. As one of the policies which support the foundations of the forthcoming Industrial Strategy for Construction, the work of the team drives forward a vision for transforming public sector procurement practice in the construction sector in a demonstrable and sustainable way. With this end in mind, the bringing together of these two teams aligns best practice assurance and advice in the context of major projects, and bolsters deep sector construction expertise within MPA.

Contribution to savings

In July 2012 the Government announced significant efficiency savings of £5.5 billion for the 2011-2012 financial year, which followed savings of £3.75 billion from 2010-2011. Of this, the major projects contribution comprised £147 million in the year 2010-2011 and £541 million in 2011-2012. The MPA has achieved these figures as a result of reviewing the Government’s biggest projects, and has halted or curtailed spend on 3 projects:

  • the National Programme for IT (£331 million) ­ a review concluded that it was not fit to provide the modern IT services that the NHS needs;
  • Crossrail (£205 million); and
  • the Schengen Information System project (£5 million).

These sums represent dismantling the National Programme for IT; a budget reduction for both project sponsors over the full construction period for Crossrail; and the replanning of the Schengen project to deliver the system in 2015.

Considering the Major Projects Cluster as a whole, the implementation of the Government Construction Strategy has delivered a further £72 million of project savings during 2011 to 2012, generating a combined total with the MPA of £613 million. These savings were made by implementing efficient best practices in construction procurement, such as: improved packaging/aggregation of projects and procurements; streamlining project development and approvals processes; and rationalising the scope of projects through introducing value engineered output specification and floor area requirements to achieve a tighter fit with service requirements.