UK government major projects where success is in doubt fall from 41 to nine

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
28 June 2015

The number of government projects where success is in doubt has fallen from 41 in 2013 to nine, according to a report.

The Major Project Authority’s (MPA) annual report 2014-15 shows out of the 188 projects under its remit, nine are currently rated “amber/red”, defined as schemes where “successful delivery is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas”.

Among those projects that have moved out of the red and amber/red category are the Department for Transport’s rail franchise programme and the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Watchkeeper reconnaissance drone scheme.

Projects rated amber/red include HS2, the £4.7 billion household energy efficiency programme, the government’s shared services programme and the NHS procurement efficiency programme. The MoD’s aircraft carriers project has also improved from red to amber/red.

The NHS procurement programme, with a budget of £39.44 million between 2013 and 2016, had achieved savings of £307.8 million in September 2014, according to Department of Health (DH) data.

“The programme is now forecasting an underspend in 2014-15 of circa £16 million,” said the DH. “This underspend is a result of a pause in certain programme activities and the new focus on wider hospital efficiency metrics to help deliver savings.”

The MPA, established in 2011, oversees the progress of projects worth £489 billion, with military equipment, energy generation and efficiency and railway infrastructure making up three quarters of this figure.

Tony Meggs, interim CEO of the MPA, said progress had been made by increasing “transparency and honesty”, building project delivery skills and “clarifying roles and making individuals accountable”, while there were plans to “improve the initial set-up of projects”.

“While we are pleased with the progress indicated in this report, there is still considerable room for improvement,” he said. “We will continue to focus on improving performance, driving forward the development of project delivery skills across government.”

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