With the end of 2016 fast approaching, we asked the UK's top officials to look back at the year, outline their goals for 2017 – and shed some light on their festive favourites. Infrastructure and Projects Authority chief executive Tony Meggs, takes part in our annual perm secs round-up
What was your highlight of 2016?
In an odd way, the EU referendum turned into a highlight for me. I was so amazed at the astonishing speed with which the civil service reacted to this unexpected outcome. As a newcomer to public service, it was impressive to see how incredibly adaptable and resilient the civil service can be under pressure. Our summer visit to Iona was also pretty special.
What has been the most significant change in your department this year?
It has been a year of continuous change for us; the IPA only came into being on January 1st this year, as a result of the merger of the old Major Projects Authority with Infrastructure UK. Merging a Cabinet Office team with a Treasury team has brought its share of challenges – but we’re making good progress, and we’re building a truly world class centre of expertise to drive better performance in government projects and infrastructure programmes.
What will be the biggest challenge of 2017 – and how are you preparing to meet it?
I think 2017 will be the year of the resource challenge for us. Demand for IPA services continues to grow, as the government’s commitment to infrastructure increases and as we improve our offer to help departments with project initiation and many other types of support – not to mention the challenge of managing Brexit as a major programme. Like most parts of government, we are being asked to do more with less. Our challenge will be to maintain quality – and this will require ruthless prioritisation of our work. It will be a tough year.
What was the best Christmas present that you’ve ever given or received? And the worst?
I’m always happy when I can find a gift that will work for several people, thereby reducing the terrible anguish of trying to work your way through the Christmas list. I was particularly pleased with myself one year when we were skiing over Christmas; I bought each of my children and their skiing mates miniature video cameras to film their downhill craziness – this was long before the GoPro era. By the end of Boxing Day, they were all broken (the cameras, not the children) – thus rapidly turning them into the worst Christmas presents I’ve ever given.
More: Perm secs round-up 2016 – Britain's top civil servants review the year and look ahead to 2017