Matthew Vickerstaff. PA: Paul Beckford Twitter
The government will hold an open competition for the new head of the government’s project delivery authority after it was announced that current chief executive Tony Meggs would leave to chair Crossrail.
Meggs had been nominated to take over as Crossrail chair from Sir Terry Morgan, who resigned on 5 December after predicting his imminent sacking as ministers lost confidence in his leadership amid the cost hikes on the cross-London rail link.
An Infrastructure Projects Authority spokesperson told CSW that Meggs, who has led the IPA since it was formed in January 2016, would step down to take on the Crossrail role at the end of the year. He will also step down as head of government’s project delivery function.
“IPA's current deputy chief executive, Matthew Vickerstaff, will act as interim chief executive effective 1 January 2019, while a permanent appointment is made through open competition,” they added.
Meggs' successor will take on the role at a crucial time as government prepares for the Spending Review that is expected next year. In an interview with CSW in September, Meggs highlighted four main areas – project initiation, performance management, portfolio size, and getting the right skills in the right places – where the IPA was looking to make progress ahead of the 2019 Spending Review.
“To be really blunt about this, this is about promising too much at the outset, particularly on big transformation projects, which are very often extremely ambitious and where the initial timescale is set without proper project timing and review,” he said.
In comments announcing his departure, Meggs said: "It has been a privilege to lead the IPA, and the wider project delivery community, and support the country’s most complex projects which are improving the lives of so many citizens.
“I look forward to taking up my new role, working closely with partners, to ensure that Crossrail is delivered as soon and safely as possible.”
Vickerstaff said that while the IPA was sad to see Meggs leave, “there is much to do to build on his excellent work”.
“This ranges from improving project initiation to ensuring we have the right leaders on the right projects,” he said. “We will continue to work forward in our vision to make ours the greatest project system in the world."
Megg’s Crossrail role comes after DfT and TfL announced the project would receive £1.4bn in extra funds as core elements of the project, including the stations and the fit out of the tunnels, were “at varying stages of completion”, despite the line having being scheduled to open in October. A revised opening date of autumn 2019 is also set to be missed, according to the latest update.
Meggs led the IPA following a merger between the Major Projects Authority and Infrastructure UK and had led the MPA from October 2014. This followed a number of senior roles in the oil industry during a 30-year career, culminating in the role of head of technology at BP.