Major scale: Reviewing the government’s 2019 major projects portfolio

Written by Civil Service World on 23 September 2019 in Feature

CSW brings you a snapshot of progress on the Government Major Project Portfolio across four categories: military capability, ICT, infrastructure and construction, and transformation and service delivery

From a glance at the newspaper front pages, it would seem that the government is doing nothing but preparing for Brexit.

But, even as HMG concentrates on delivering the UK’s exit from the European Union, dozens of huge projects – covering infrastructure, public service transformation, technology and defence – are ongoing across departments. The annual report from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority reveals the state of the Government Major Projects Portfolio, and the 2019 edition looked at 133 qualifying projects, worth a total of £442bn.

In his introduction to the report, Matthew Vickerstaff, the IPA’s interim chief executive, sets out the position of what he calls some “undoubtedly challenging” projects. “We do not shy away from these challenges, but it is important to remember that these are the most complex and innovative projects, not just in the UK, but often in the world,” he says.

Case studies

Vickerstaff adds that the IPA is “proud that its annual report shines a light on government’s performance in this area”, and highlights that the agency can only create the best project delivery system of any global government by “being transparent and measuring our performance over time”.

This CSW report aims to complement the IPA’s, looking at case studies across government of where projects have gone right or wrong.

2018-19 risk ratings The IPA uses a traffic light system to rate the likelihood of successful project delivery (see full explanations below). The 2018-19 ratings, based on September 2018 data, reveal that the ratings of a majority (54%) of projects were unchanged year on year.

However, the number of red-rated projects where delivery appears unachievable halved in a year, from eight to four.

The number of projects given the top green rating doubled, from two to four, but there was also an increase in the number of amber projects, according to the IPA examination.

Green – 4 projects (2 projects in 2017-18) Successful delivery of the project on time,  and on budget appears highly likely and there are no major outstanding issues.

Amber/Green – 18 projects (22 in 2017-18) Successful delivery appears probable, but risks must be handled so they do not become major issues.

Amber – 66 projects (59 in 2017-18) Successful delivery appears feasible. Significant issues exist, but they appear resolvable.

Amber/Red – 38 projects (38 in 2017-18) Successful delivery is in doubt, with major risks that require urgent action.

Red – 4 projects (8 in 2017-18) Successful delivery of the project appears unachievable due to issues in areas such as project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery.

Read the case studies

Military capability

Information and communications technology

Infrastructure and construction

Transformation and service delivery

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