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Major Projects Leadership Academy to stem project failure

PM News
February 9, 2012

United Kingdom Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has announced plans to set up a Major Projects Leadership Academy to help senior civil servants manage major government projects. The Major Projects Authority (MPA) will partner with Oxford’s Saïd Business School to deliver the course.

Maude said the academy would re-establish taxpayer confidence in government projects. “Taxpayers need to know that major projects will be delivered on time and to budget,” he said. “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.”

The move comes following recently published data that suggests more than 200 government projects are behind schedule and over budget. “Indicators suggest that less than half are being delivered effectively,” said David Pitchford, executive director of the MPA.

Building inhouse capacity will also reduce the government’s reliance on external consultancy, he added. “Over the last 25 years capability has been outsourced … Consultants walk away with the money and knowledge leaving the government with neither.”

The first intake into the Major Projects Leadership Academy is scheduled for October 2012, consisting of about 25 senior civil servants already responsible for major projects. The plan is to have two intakes a year and eventually make academy training a mandatory requirement for managing a major project. A ‘major project’ is defined as one that requires Treasury sign-off, of which there are currently about 200.

“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, said Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service. “The Leadership Academy will provide them with the skills and tools they need to manage these programs successfully, ensuring they are delivered on time and on budget.”

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