IPA names new head of government’s project delivery profession

Fiona Spencer joins agency from the Home Office, where she was chief portfolio officer.

Photo: PA

By Richard Johnstone

16 Jan 2019

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority has named experienced civil servant Fiona Spencer as the head of the government’s project delivery profession.

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden announced Spencer’s appointment on Wednesday at the government’s first Project Delivery Conference.

She joins from the Home Office, where she has held a number of roles. She has been its chief portfolio officer since April 2015, leading the department on a number of technology and business transformation projects.


As director of the profession, Spencer will be responsible for developing career pathways for project delivery professionals across government, as well as managing the Major Projects Leadership Academy, of which she was an early graduate.

Spencer, who as chief portfolio officer has led the project delivery profession at the Home Office, will replace the IPA’s director of the profession Nick Borwell, who had been seconded to the IPA. She was also the Home Office’s interim director general of capabilities and resources for seven months.

Spencer, who will take up her new role in early March, said that government “must ensure that our most demanding projects are run by our most experienced leaders”.

She added: “Having been a head of profession myself in the Home Office, I look forward to now being at the centre and working closely with all departments to make sure we have the right people on the right projects.”

Dowden, Cabinet Office minister for implementation, said the need for project management excellence at the heart of public policy delivery “has never been more vital”, adding that “this is an area the IPA is driving forward at pace”.

He added: “Fiona has been a champion of this work for a number of years and I am pleased she will be using her wealth of expertise to build project delivery capability across government.”

The appointment comes as the joint Cabinet Office and HM Treasury agency recruits a new chief executive to replace Tony Meggs, who is leaving to chair the Crossrail project. IPA's deputy chief executive, Matthew Vickerstaff, is acting chief executive in the interim.

Meggs’ successor will be the head of the project delivery function, which encompasses not only the project managers who make up the profession but also the development of project delivery tools and standards that are used across government.

Vickerstaff also welcomed Spencer to her post. “Great project leaders deliver great projects, and I’m very pleased to welcome one of our most experienced project leaders, Fiona Spencer, into the IPA,” he said.

“Having been instrumental in the development of the profession to date, and having managed one of the most complex portfolios in government, I have no doubt that she will have a meaningful and lasting impact.”

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