With the end of 2015 in sight, we asked Whitehall's top officials to review the year, set out their priorities for 2016 – and shed some light on their festive plans. Major Projects Authority chief executive Tony Meggs takes part in our biggest-ever perm secs' round-up series
How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2015?
One of our primary responsibilities is leading the development of the Project Delivery Profession across government. A core focus has been tackling our talent shortage.
We have made great strides in engaging with departments to understand their needs for project delivery professionals and continued to enrol senior responsible owners and project directors of government major projects onto our Major Projects Leadership Academy, which has received industry endorsement and international acclaim.
We have also launched the Project Leadership Programme for those running department projects the next level down i.e. below that of the government’s Major Projects Portfolio.
Our focus hasn’t just been on the senior levels of the profession; we’re also in the process of recruiting the first cohort of Fast Streamers to join our profession and to build our capability and capacity from the ground up. I’m looking forward to seeing our first batch of bright-eyed new recruits in 2016.
All this work reinforces my belief that great project leaders deliver great projects, and that the best delivery comes from the best people who are inspired, engaged and challenged every day.
What are your department’s top priorities in the year ahead?
Our immediate challenge will be to ensure that the merger between MPA and Infrastructure UK goes smoothly, so that we emerge as a strong unified organisation with shared values and a clear purpose.
Given that we’re all operating under constrained budgets, we will build on MPA’s strengths, including delivering high quality assurance reviews. We will enhance our early engagement with departments on emerging major projects, to improve the front end loading, liaising closely with policy, commercial, and digital colleagues.
We’ll also be looking to increase our interaction with major projects at the later stages of their delivery, to make sure that the desired outcomes are achieved.
As part of our efforts to advance our understanding of the performance of major projects, we will make better use of our data. We will also collate more lessons learned, and create standards that will drive up our performance to rival best practice in the private sector.
What film do you hope to watch over the festive period – and what’s the best game to play with the family on Christmas Day?
Christmas is not Christmas without Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, which provides a suitable balance of sentimentality and uplift. Games played generally depend on what Father Christmas puts under the tree.
Perm secs round-up 2015: Whitehall's top civil servants review the year – and look ahead to 2016