The Home Office has improved its approach to managing the portfolio of major projects for which it is responsible, according to a report today by the National Audit Office.
The Home Office is currently managing over 30 major projects, more than any other central civil government department, with a combined estimated lifetime cost of £15 billion. Following previous reports from the NAO and the Committee of Public Accounts calling on the Department to improve its approach to project management, it has taken steps to do so.
The Home Office established the Group Investment Board in 2003 to challenge, approve and monitor all major projects. In addition, the Department set up a centre of excellence which provides guidance and support for project managers and supports the Group Investment Board. The Home Office has strengthened oversight of projects with improved reporting on project progress.
The Home Office has shown a great commitment to improving the capabilities and skills it needs to deliver these projects. It has developed a range of training and development initiatives dedicated to supporting its project managers and project staff. It has led in the development of training for Senior Responsible Owners (senior staff accountable for the delivery of project benefits) and which is now available across Government.
There is, however, scope for further improvements. The Home Office has not used the information it has to assess whether or not there has been an improvement in performance in delivering projects to time and budget. The Home Office also needs to improve the accuracy and consistency of its project information and to improve management of risk. The Home Office remains reliant on temporary staff and consultants who make up over 30 per cent of its major project teams. The NAO has called on the Home Office to address this and, in trying to do so, the Home Office is improving its data quality and has been running a series of campaigns to recruit permanent staff with the skills it needs.