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Lack of skills puts £200bn of government projects at risk

The value for money of 43 major government projects is at risk according to a report released today by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The projects which are together worth approximately £200bn are at risk because of ineffective leadership, lack of skills and experience within the departments running them and project leaders without enough commercial experience.

The report highlights the areas in which the Government are lacking personnel with necessary skills. The gaps include areas like contract management and risk identification. Mr Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “There is still not a coherent system for providing skills across government or for using the existing skills as efficiently as possible.”

The Government are, according to the NAO report, attempting to fill these gaps by the recruitment of temporary staff, which does not solve the problem. A spokesperson for the NAO said: “the culture of staff frequently moving positions within a department often leads to commercial experience and expertise being lost by projects.”

The Major Project Review Group found that out of 12 projects assessed, eight of them were lacking in specific skills and experience areas.

A report by the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) found that the Department for Children, Schools and Families had spent £1.35M on a single consultant over a three year period. This type of expense occurred because the department lacked the necessary skills and resources to avoid using an outside consultant.

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) refused to identify: which eight government departments had ineffective commercial leadership from their commercial director; which eight Senior Responsible Owners on major projects do not have substantial commercial experience; and which eight major projects were lacking in specific skill and experience areas.

We leave it to you, the reader, to decide for yourself which of the following engineering based major government projects are the ones lacking experience, commercial leadership or commercial experience from their leaders:

Infrastructure Planning Commission

Thames Gateway

Olympics Build

Olympics Legacy

Olympics Programme

Olympics Stage

Building Schools for Future

Carbon Capture and Storage

Nuclear Decommissioning


M25 Widening

Training Rationalisation

Prison Capacity Programme

Readers' comments (2)

  • Construction industry in affected not only by the recession but also by lack of skills, shortage of experienced staff and aging of construction work force.

    Growth of the construction industry is at risk due to these and recession is a blessing in disguise thus giving a breathing space to to produce the necessary skilled work force.

    All these indicates that very soon UK Construction industry would require expatriate support to sustain the industry sufficiently.

    At a critical time like this, the UKBA has removed from their list of Jobs in Demand the position of Construction Manager, Project Manager, Sustainability Manager and similar construction.
    managerial positions.

    I think that this requires a review in order to sustain the construction industry.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This is inevitable. Years rather decades, the way technically capable people in the industry are either sidelined or discouraged, it has to happen. It is not too far, catastrophic failures of structures are waiting to happen for us.
    Every organisation is rewarding managers not the technically capable people. Unless this trend is changed in near future quality Engineers (not managers) will disappear.

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