10 PM NETWORK MAY 2015 WWW.PMI.ORG
Operating System Updates
Following a series of high-profile IT project failures, the U.K. government’s Major Projects Authority acted to boost senior civil servants’ expertise in managing large projects.
In partnership with Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and Deloitte, it created the
Major Projects Leadership Academy (MPLA) in 2012. Anyone leading a “major proj-
ect”—meaning a project requiring approval from the country’s treasury—must now com-
plete a one-year, part-time program at Oxford. Since its launch, about 120 project leaders
have graduated from the academy, with a further 200 enrolled, including
leaders of IT projects in the country’s major projects portfolio.
“Three years ago, about one-third of the government’s major projects
were delivered on time and to budget,” says Paul Chapman, EngD, direc-
tor of Oxford University’s MSc in major program management degree
program, Oxford, England, and head of the academy. “The MPLA has
contributed to improving performance so now this is nearly two-thirds.”
Beyond a stronger focus on practitioner training, the U.K. govern-
ment is rethinking the way it manages its IT project portfolio. In 2011,
it created the Government Digital Service (GDS) as part of the U.K.
government’s Cabinet Office. On its website, GDS strikes an agile tone
familiar to tech companies but unusual for a government agency. “We
build a minimum viable product quickly, then iterate wildly,” it boasts.
GDS is currently focused on a “Digital Transformation” program to
digitize the 23 most popular government services, such as visa applications and benefit claims. As part of its effort to bring transparency to
IT projects, the government created gov.uk/transformation, a website
that tracks the status of each project within the digitization effort, which
began in 2013.
By building a team of IT experts at GDS, the United Kingdom has in
many ways centralized and specialized its IT function. GDS doesn’t only
execute projects, it also oversees much of the government’s IT procure-
ment. The program has fueled centralization across the IT project portfolio, says Robert
Atkinson, president, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washing-
ton, D.C.-based IT policy think tank.
“It has taken a lot of the procurement responsibility for bigger IT projects away from
individual agencies and given them to GDS, because that’s what GDS focuses on—it’s
their bread and butter.” —Steve Hendershot
Beyond the Carbon Peak
China is getting serious about greenhouse gases.
As part of its November 2014 climate deal with the
United States, the country agreed to peak its carbon
dioxide emissions by 2030 and boost green energy
output to 20 percent within the same timeline. This
means deploying 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of low-carbon energy—an amount roughly equivalent to the
United States’ entire current electric grid.
Céline Bak, president of Analytica Advisors in
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and a consultant on
clean energy to organizations operating in China,
estimates the deal will spur 5,000 to 10,000 clean-
energy projects throughout China’s provinces.
Growth in renewable energy so far has varied
greatly from province to province, but Ms. Bak
predicts that as a result of this deal, “deployments
will occur much more evenly across the country.”
While China grapples with the challenges of
launching a massive clean-energy portfolio, the
United States is expected to rely largely on natural-
ago, about one-
third of the
on time and to
this is nearly
—Paul Chapman, EngD, Oxford
University, Oxford, England