PAC: '40% of departments lack project plans'

Fewer than two-thirds of government departments have adequate plans for providing assurance on major projects, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said in a report published yesterday.

By Civil Service World

17 Oct 2012

The government’s Major Projects Authority (MPA) told the PAC that only 62 per cent of departments have Integrated Assurance and Approval Plans, which set milestones against which departments’ projects can be assessed by the MPA and Treasury.

Apart from the Ministry of Justice and Department of Work and Pensions, the committee found that most other departments have been “slow to comply with the new assurance system” and that “a cultural change is required to secure the level of engagement necessary to embed the new assurance system, starting from the top in these departments.”

The committee also said that, after one year in operation, the MPA lacks the resources it needs to bring improvements across all government projects. It noted that with 38 full-time equivalent staff, the MPA has 40 per cent fewer people than the project management section of the Office of Government Commerce, which it replaced in 2011.

PAC chair Margaret Hodge, said:  “With a sharply cut workforce and a budget of just £6 million a year to oversee over 200 projects with a value of £376 billion, the agency cannot achieve what it was set up to do. It has to focus on only the biggest and most risky projects.”

This means that significant problems with lower priority projects may be missed, she added. The report recommends that the Treasury and the MPA should quantify the return on investment from its work and decide whether further funding would benefit the taxpayer.

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