Benchmarking drive set to standardise Whitehall project development

Infrastructure and Projects Authority says new team will be created to ensure costs and schedules of major schemes are achievable

The Transforming Infrastructure Performance programme is intended to boost project management in government. Credit: PA

By Richard Johnstone

06 Dec 2017

The government has launched a new benchmarking scheme for major Whitehall projects as part of a drive to unlock as much as £15bn in efficiency savings from the construction sector.

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority has today set out the Transforming Infrastructure Performance programme to ensure government projects are delivered swiftly and efficiently.

The programme is intended to build upon existing initiatives to boost project management across four areas – benchmarking, planning alignment and integration, procurement and smarter infrastructure to boost the use of technology.


This approach will be applied across the government’s £600bn infrastructure investment pipeline, which was published today.

Under the plans, a new "project initiation routemap" for Whitehall will increase the use of benchmarking in the areas of costings, schedule and design.

At the initial stage of project development, the sponsoring department and the centre of government, including the IPA, will have to clearly articulate the desired outcomes from any infrastructure investment. The IPA will also establish a new benchmarking team in 2018 to promote the effective use of cost and schedule data for infrastructure projects and programmes. Benchmarked cost estimates, including whole life costs, will form part of the business case approval process and will be “supported and challenged” by the IPA.

Departments will also be asked to ensure that the business cases for major schemes include the “widest possible range of benefits to be delivered through the planned investment”, including regeneration and business expansion, encouraging innovation and improving connectivity, and lowering carbon.

Each project will have a plan, overseen by the IPA and including other parts of central government as well as local government and industry where required, to deliver the anticipated benefits and to measure the benefits that are achieved.

The Transforming Infrastructure Performance report also set out an expanded role for the cross-government Cities and Local Growth Unit to ensure joint decision-making and effective accountability across Whitehall.

Tony Meggs, chief executive of the IPA, said the plan would help government contribute to closing the construction productivity gap.

“We want to maintain confidence in the sector and will work alongside industry, using our purchasing power to drive the adoption of modern methods of construction in both new and existing infrastructure. The scale of ambition is great but by aligning our initiatives we can work with industry to deliver transformation for the sector.”

Nick Baveystock, the director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers, welcomed the move and said the plan showed “government has made a long term, strategic commitment to an infrastructure system for a modern economy”.

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