UK Cabinet Office and Oxford team up to promote government project leadership

The University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School will host a major leadership academy for civil servants responsible for major government projects.

Minister for the Cabinet Office  Francis Maude has announced that Oxford will design and deliver the new Major Projects Leadership Academy (MPLA), which will build the skills of senior project leaders across government to deliver complex projects.

Senior leaders working on government major projects such as the Olympics and High Speed Two will be the first to benefit from the Government's groundbreaking new approach to major taxpayer-funded projects.

The aim of the new academy will be to reduce the over-reliance on expensive external consultancy further and building expertise within the civil service. In future, no one will be able to lead a major government project without completing the Academy.

Dr Paul Chapman, Academy Director at Saïd Business School, said: 'As you would expect from Oxford, we take an intellectually rigorous approach to addressing the three primary themes of the Academy: major project leadership, technical understanding of major project delivery and commercial capability.

'We will also focus on the practical skills necessary to develop senior practitioners that can deliver very large and complex projects on time and on budget. For example, we will expose participants to the ideas, experiences and best practice from world-class major project leaders and academics. This means we will further enhance and build the skills of the already capable project leaders that enrol on the Academy and ensure the programme remains relevant to them and the wider civil service.’

Major public sector projects are large and complex by nature due to their scale, complexity and ambition. Such projects have included the London 2012 Olympics; the Universal Credit Programme, which aims to revolutionise the welfare system for 8 million UK households; and the Crossrail and High Speed Two projects are two current examples of large investment in the country’s transport network. The new Leadership Academy is designed to ensure that projects such as these have world-class leadership in the future.

The Saïd Business School will design and deliver the programme in partnership with Deloitte, and the Academy will be managed by the Cabinet Office Major Projects Authority (MPA), which was launched in 2010 to oversee major projects and ensure they deliver for taxpayers.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said: ‘When it comes to major projects, this government means business. Taxpayers need to know that major projects will be delivered on time and to budget.

'We do have impressive expertise in the public sector at the moment, but we want to take a long term view and build this within Whitehall. Crucially, this will relinquish taxpayers from having to foot the bill for external consultancy to deliver the projects and services the country needs.

'This is an important step in our plans to reform the Civil Service – we want to build world-class project leadership skills within government. Starting with our current leaders, we will develop a generation of professionals that are internationally recognised for their skill and expertise.'