Fourth major government projects report published
Projects authority head says despite “steady” progress up to April 2016, too many government programmes remain in the low delivery confidence range for an extended period of time
The government has claimed that the publication of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority’s (IPA’s) fourth annual report has shown significant progress in its ability to manage key transformation and technology programmes across Whitehall.
In releasing its findings, the IPA, which was formed earlier this year through the merger of watchdog body the Major Projects Authority (MPA) and Infrastructure UK (IUK), charted the progress of 143 projects currently ongoing as of April this year - representing total lifetime costs of £403bn.
Ratings are built around a five point scale from ‘green’ - denoting a project where successful implementation is deemed likely - to a 'red' rating, which classes a project as being unachievable without “urgent and substantive action”.
Of these projects, which include the new Universal Credit welfare reform and delivery system - most recently rated as amber - as well as the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) – also given an amber rating - 70% are anticipated to be completed by 2020, according to the findings. No mention is made in the report of the potential impact of the UK recently voting to leave the European Union on the roll out of projects.
Compared to last year’s report, the total number of red or ‘amber/red’ ratings – used to describe projects requiring support - dropped to 44 from 48. Projects rated ‘green’ and ‘amber/green’ were said to have seen a “significant reduction”, according to the IPA.
This was said to have resulted from the overall number of projects rated by the IPA falling to 143 as of September 2015, compared to the 188 that were in scope at the same time the previous year.
In a statement, the government said the report showed that significant progress had been made around crucial projects focused on transport, security and public services, as well as the completion of healthcare technology programmes like the Summary Care Record.
“Projects which left the Government’s Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP) include major change programmes such as Electricity Market Reform and IT services such as Spine 2, which provides the critical infrastructure on which vital NHS applications depend,” said the statement.
“Less than 1% (0.25%) of the total value of all projects is rated red. However this does not mean that a project cannot be completed successfully, if prompt action is taken to address the main issues.”
According to the IPA findings, between April 2015 and April 2016, key Ministry of Justice (MoJ) projects such as the Future IT Sourcing (FITS) programme switched from amber to 'amber/red'.
Over the same period, the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), the subject of a National Audit Office report earlier this year, was found to have switched from a red rating to amber.
Notable red ratings in the report included the Department for Transport (DFT) Shared Services Implementation Programme and Electronic Monitoring by the MoJ.
Projects rated green include the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) ICT re-procurement programme and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Fraud, Error and Debt focus.
Addressing the latest findings, IPA chief executive Tony Meggs said that the 2015 - 2016 annual report highlighted the beneficial effects of project oversight on the government’s Major Project Portfolio.
“Progress remains steady, but there are still too many projects which remain in the low delivery confidence range for too long,” he said.
“We have a number of initiatives under way which are designed to improve performance over time including an increased focus on early intervention, a new performance measurement framework, continued development of the project delivery capability in government, and establishing and supporting a peer group for departments engaged in transformation projects. These initiatives will help us to ensure that taxpayer’s money is wisely spent.”