LONDON'S $4.6bn Olympic construction programme will be run by an American and an Australian.
Regeneration agency English Partnerships' Australian chief executive David Higgins was named chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) in November.
American engineer and Channel Tunnel veteran Jack Lemley was appointed chairman last Friday. Both appointments were confi med by the Department for Culture Media & Sport.
Higgins was selected for experience gained during the Sydney 2000 Olympic construction programme. At the time he was managing director and chief executive of Lend Lease, which built the Olympic Village and aquatic centre.
Higgins was also chosen for his knowledge of regeneration projects developed at English Partnerships. This will be important as the Games are intended to revive east London.
'This job is a great opportunity - I'm passionate about regeneration and this is a one-off opportunity to regenerate a large part of London, ' said Higgins.
Lemley, former chief executive of Channel Tunnel contractor Transmanche Link, was brought in for his experience of running major projects.
'When I heard about the position, I considered it an exceptional challenge and I've always been up for a challenge, ' said Lemley.
He said he was so keen to get involved that he applied for the posts of ODA chief executive and chairman.
Both men will formally take up their positions this month shortly before the ODA is offi ially created following the enactment of the Olympics Bill.
Lemley, 70, currently runs his engineering consultancy Lemley Associates from Boise, Idaho.
But he plans to move to the UK to take up his part time post as ODA chairman.
'From my perspective, it will be a full-time position for the first few months. I will consult on other construction projects, but only to the extent that there is time for it. This is priority number one, ' said Lemley.
Lemley and Higgins said their appointments would not affect Olympic preparations already carried by the London Development Agency (LDA).
The LDA has already drawn up shortlists for contracts to design the Velopark and the Olympic Park and infrastructure. It has also shortlisted programme managers for the Olympic park construction programme.
There was speculation that Lemley's appointment would hamper Bechtel's chances of winning Olympic work.
During his time as chief executive of Transmanche Link he clashed with senior Bechtel executives who had been seconded to Eurotunnel.
But Lemley said this issue would not affect contractor appointments for the Olympic programme. 'I want to work with people who are competent, ' was all he would say.
Higgins added: 'We are not going to try to change the selection process.' Lemley has developed a strong reputation as a quiet but tough manager, able to command a strong degree of loyalty from those working with him.
'He knows the business back to front, and there's no doubt about it that he was a good manager, ' said a former Channel Tunnel colleague.