Challenges and considerations for public sector projects post-Brexit
The United Kingdom (UK) is now out of the European Union (EU). What we're left with, until the end of the transition period, are numerous open-ended questions, which still need to be answered. The UK public sector will face considerable challenges in several areas – legislation, procurement, trade, freight movement, borders, agriculture, and fishing, to name a few.
The UK remained with the EU arrangements and contracts for more than 40 years. Brexit will have a massive effect on the regional economy, trade and people. Research conducted by London School of Economics has suggested there will be a significant impact on public service programmes and services.
The crux of the challenge would be on delivering programmes on a tight timescale and with tighter budgets. The following are some of the problems that the public sector needs to focus on for successful delivery of programmes to avoid any delays and meet stakeholder expectations:
- Budget and costs
The real challenge for public sector is to deliver programmes within budget. How sustainable is the budget in the absence of EU funding and grants after Brexit?
Public sector organisations can drive efficiencies in their programme costs through better governance. Furthermore, public sector organisations could become more commercial in their operations and approach through preparing entrepreneurship investment and programmes.
- Skilled project managers and professionals
Resources can become a massive challenge for almost all public sector projects and programmes. The scale of the problem is vast and requires meticulous strategic planning and risk management. There will be challenges to align skills to the right delivery of programmes via effective change management, flexibility and behavioural issues.
- Procurement and supply chain management
Successful programme delivery will become a significant challenge depending on the efficiency of the supply chain and procurement teams in place. It can be done by developing achievable and straightforward procurement strategies and routes for procuring public sector programmes.
It is an excellent opportunity for the project management community to streamline the rules of procurement. It will provide an opportunity for the public sector project management community to develop a framework for the future goods and services in post-Brexit scenario.
- Legislation, legal issues and compliance
In the current EU compliance period (transition period), the UK is following thousands of EU legislations and frameworks. For example, DEFRA has more than 1200 EU relevant laws to follow. This could provide a degree of freedom for the UK project management community to deliver their programmes with a little more ease and freedom, avoiding thousands of EU legal conditions throughout the project life cycle.
- Mitigating and controlling Risks
Another crucial challenge is to control and mitigate the risks in the programme life cycle after Brexit, which includes EU compliance, procurement, and cost savings. After Brexit, there could be a total shift for identifying and controlling the risks during all programme stages. These could include risk distribution, assigning responsibility, contingency for the costs and programme, and most importantly, flexible and easy procurement strategy.
Public sector project managers must compare notes and share expertise. That will help them to become more adaptable to the changes and keep the focus on the outcomes and benefits of the programme.
- The white paper (February 2017). gov.uk/government/publications/the-united-kingdoms-exitfrom-and-new-partnership-with-the-european-union-white-paper
- Institute of Government paper – Legislating Brexit (March 2017). www.instituteforgovernment.org. UK/publications/legislating-Brexit
- National Audit Office (March 2017) Capability in the Civil Service (HC: 919)
- 'Cut the red tape: Ministers must use Brexit opportunity to 'free' councils by slashing bureaucracy, LGA says', The Telegraph, 17 August 2017
- Across Europe, only 1.6 per cent of public contracts are awarded to companies in other member states. See page 3 of Cabinet Office Impact Assessment (2012) of EU Public Procurement Directives.
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