This is well worth a read, if you are interested in how the UK public sector is managing major projects. Check it out!
Most articles on this subject have erroneously reported that the PAC is proposing more power for the MPA. However, the MPA argue:
…….while central assurance functions should be strengthened and its recommendations listened to, any changes must ensure that accountability for projects remains with ministers, accounting officers and Senior Responsible Owners (SROs), and is not diluted.
As an expert in delivering strategic change, with extensive hands-on experience of leading and rescuing major projects in the public sector, I see matters slightly differently. Let me share some of my own insights.
Firstly, I think that there is too much assurance and indirect costs that are not directly creating value. Surely, if the Treasury does not act on the recommendations of the MPA, the effectiveness of the MPA is questionable?
Secondly, another reason for excessive costs is scope change and intervention arising from political meddling.
Thirdly, the Mandarins or accounting officers are frequently risk averse, compared to their private sector peers – indeed the latter would be rewarded on a success fee.
Fourthly, the so-called Senior Responsible Owners (SROs) typically do not have the stature and power to protect their projects.
Fifthly, individual program and project directors spend too much of their time scoring and form filling, rather than delivering.
Sixthly, major projects are still far too depend upon major consulting firms, outsource companies and technology providers because the public sector do not have the skills in-house. Skills were always a problem but thanks to excessive austerity, the brightest and the best have often taken the money and found careers outside the public sector.
Overall, the there is an absence of strategic thinking, so that decisions are fudged in the interests of political expediency.
With too much austerity, there is now a paramount need for enormous public investment. But here comes the rub!
Let me turn this to an open question:
Surely the tax-payers would get greater value for money if the whole public sector was outsourced, with the exception of policy and strategic services?