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Civil Service

Empowering project managers across Whitehall

Every year, civil servants are tasked with delivering some of the UK’s most ambitious and transformative projects.

Even a very quick scan of the Major Projects Authority (MPA’s) second annual report, published today, would leave you in little doubt of the enormous challenges faced by those involved; and when you consider that every year the Government delivers almost 200 major projects, costing £488 billion over their lifespan, you begin to get a sense of the scale of the task at hand.

From the Greater Anglia Rail Refranchising, providing better rail services for passengers in East Anglia, to a £250m programme to develop state-of-the-art cancer treatment for children; every day we are working on implementing vital projects that affect millions of people.

The civil servants responsible for delivering these projects are doing so in an unprecedented era of Government transparency.

While throwing the doors open to the public on the state of project progress might be uncomfortable, it is this honest and open culture that will enable us to build a world-class Civil Service capable of getting the job done with clear accountability for taxpayers money.

You can read the report here to get a sense of the scale of the work involved and review our candid Red-Amber-Green Delivery Confidence Assessment (DCA) project ratings.

I wanted to use this opportunity to touch on what we are doing within the MPA to support civil servants across Government and to ensure that we are building a respected and attractive profession of project management.

A huge focus for us is the need to ensure that all of our most important projects are being led by outstanding leaders. In my first few months in the job, it has been encouraging to meet some brilliant civil servants and to see how our new Major Projects Leadership Academy is helping them to develop their skills. Half of the leaders of projects on the Government’s Major Projects Portfolio have been through our Academy and eventually that number will rise to 100%. This is world-class training that will benefit project managers in their careers – here in the civil service and beyond.

The MPA itself is also developing to offer project teams a greater level of support, through providing objective advice and helping them to find the right people to work on and lead their projects.

Project leaders in departments are the experts when it comes to their policy areas and we need to make sure they are supported from the centre, so they can deliver.

It is early days.

This is just the second MPA Annual Report; but in establishing the MPA in 2011 the Government, with a mandate from the Prime Minister, has indicated the importance of good delivery and best practice in public projects of national importance.

It is in all of our interests to get this right.

John Manzoni is the CEO of the Major Projects Authority

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