David Pitchford, who has been Executive Director of Major Projects within the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group, is to run the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority which has the power to intervene in failing projects.
Last year Pitchford delivered what Lindsay Scott, co-director of Arras People, called an “amazingly frank assessment of the state of major projects within the UK Government”.
Pitchford said failures of government projects were because of:
The new Major Projects Authority is run as a partnership with the Treasury and approves projects worth more than £5m. The Guardian reports that the Authority has an enforceable mandate from the prime minister to oversee and direct the management of all large scale central government projects.
It will be able to:
- tell departments if there is a need for additional assurance
- arrange extra support for a project
- take disputes or problems to ministers.
Departments will be required to provide an integrated assurance and approval plan for every project at its inception. The MPA will approve these before the Cabinet Office and Treasury approves projects, and run an assurance process at key stages to assess whether they are on course to deliver on time, within budget and to the required quality.
It will also compile a portfolio of major projects, reporting on them once a year, and work with departments to improve their skills in the management of projects and programmes.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the Authority is being set up to improve government’s poor record on project delivery.
“The MPA will work in collaboration with central government departments to help us get firmer control of our major projects both at an individual and portfolio level,” he said. “It will look at projects from High Speed Two (for London to Scotland rail services) to the Rural Payments Agency’s ICT system.”
Pitchford’s increasing influence on major projects within the Cabinet Office is welcome, especially after the departures of some other reformers who include John Suffolk and Andy Tait.