Joint programme board targets UK infrastructure cost savings

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Posted by APM on 13th Jun 2011

Programme management is set to take a starring role in the latest Government initiative aimed at cutting waste in the public sector.

An HM Treasury report into the effectiveness of the UK’s infrastructure projects and programmes has identified a lack of ‘clarity and co-ordination’ over key decisions as one of the drivers of cost.

Following publication of the Infrastructure Cost Review in December 2010, this latest report sets out a blueprint for change, including the creation of a Joint Programme Management Board.

The board will be tasked with implementing a ‘whole system’ approach to project delivery and services, thus avoiding a ‘blurring’ of client, funder and delivery agent roles and responsibilities. It will also look to strengthen ties between industry and Government.

Paul Morrell, Chief Construction Adviser, will chair the Board, with membership from Infrastructure UK and the Efficiency and Reform Group in the Cabinet Office. It will report to the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

Adrian Pyne, Chair of APM’s Programme Management Specific Interest Group and member of the Acumen 7 network, welcomed the ‘whole system’ approach but said it needed to be well-designed and sustained.

“Sadly too many houses of change have been of straw, not bricks, and have been blown down,” he said. “The key is for the public sector to become ‘intelligent clients’, integrating changed behaviours for clients and suppliers, strong leadership, control of requirements, well managed commercial contracts and professional delivery.”

The move follows recommendations made in a separate Department for Transport study, Realising the Potential of GB Rail, which examines ‘barriers to efficiency’ in the UK rail network.

In it, report chair Sir Roy McNulty says that among the principal barriers are ‘fragmentation of structures and interfaces’.

He said there was no ‘silver bullet’ but added that delivery of major cost savings was dependent on reaching best practice in a number of areas, including programme and project management.

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