The Infrastructure and Projects Authority has named former oil company executive Nick Smallwood as its new chief executive and head of the cross-government project delivery function.
Smallwood succeeds Tony Meggs, after the former IPA chief took over as chair of the Crossrail London scheme, and start work next month. The IPA's deputy chief executive, Matthew Vickerstaff, has been working as interim head since Meggs stepped down in January.
Smallwood, who was appointed after an open competition, has 37 years’ experience of managing complex project portfolios, mostly with oil company Royal Dutch Shell. He was latterly vice president for projects engineering and chief projects engineer at Shell until leaving the firm last June. He also helped develop the firm’s global project academy, where he was accountable for managing how projects were delivered and a variety of significant improvement programmes, according to the IPA.
He is also a trustee of the board of the Association for Project Management, where he contributes to the overall development of the UK’s project management profession.
The IPA oversees the government’s 150 biggest and most complex projects, covering infrastructure and construction, transformation and service delivery, military capability, and information and communications technology. It is also responsible for the government’s National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, which contains projections of £600bn of public and private infrastructure investment.
Announcing the appointment, civil service chief executive John Manzoni said the IPA is home to one of government’s most important cross-cutting functions, adding that “if government’s projects aren’t delivered successfully, then our policy agenda can’t be implemented”.
He added: “I’m thrilled that Nick will lead the IPA. Now more than ever we need experienced project leaders in government, putting deliverability at the heart of government policy.”
Charles Roxburgh, second permanent secretary at the Treasury, which co-sponsors the agency with the Cabinet Office, added: “We are growing our economy by investing in the infrastructure and capital projects the country needs.
“Nick is joining the IPA at a critical moment as it helps ensure our investment is delivered on time and on budget and represents value for money for taxpayers.”
Smallwood (left) said that government isalready delivering an ambitious portfolio of projects, “and the IPA has already made significant strides in building a world class regime that supports them”.
He added: “I want to focus on improving performance and taking our system to the next level.”
The job posting for the role said the next IPA chief would also be tasked with expanding the agency's role to oversee more major projects across the public sector.
The advert said the jobwould continue working to "support their successful delivery and to secure the economic and social benefits from critical projects and programmes" across government as well “grow[ing] the IPA's footprint in the wider public sector".