This report will follow in an Additional Papers pack once the report has been published for consideration of the Executive Committee (due for publication on Monday 17th July 2023).
The Interim Director of Finance presented the Establishment of a Programme Office report for Members’ consideration; and in doing so informed Members that this report had been prepared as a result of the recommendations from the Audit Task Group investigation that had taken place at Bromsgrove District Council earlier in the year. The recommendations from the Task Group had been agreed at the Executive Committee meeting held on 13th June 2023. One of the agreed recommendations included the establishment of the Programme Office and this report provided more information on the proposals going forward.
The number of organisational projects that were either underway or planned had recently been reviewed by the Corporate Management Team (CMT) and 59 projects had been identified. However, of these, 29 had been moved to Business as Usual. These projects were placed into four main categories:
o Economic Development and Regeneration
o ICT Related
o Organisational Change Related
Members were informed that Public Realm projects already had a governance structure in place under the Project Governance Group. This was chaired by the Chief Executive of Redditch Borough Council. It was clarified that this group covered projects managed by North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWEDR) on behalf of the Council. The group met on a 6-weekly basis and managed the projects that involved large infrastructure projects.
There would need to be a Housing Board established to look at all Housing Projects including the General Fund and HRA. The largest area to look at was highlighted as ICT and Organisational Change projects where additional resource would be needed to prioritise projects, prioritise resource for these projects, coordinate interdependencies across these projects and ensure these projects were delivering.
It was envisaged that all projects from the four main categories highlighted above would be collated it a monthly report to CMT at its monthly Assurance meeting.
It was noted that there was a difference between specific Project Managers and Programme Managers. It was highlighted that there were already Project Managers at the Council, however a Programme Manager, would look to manage a range of projects already in place and in the future. From a financial perspective as the projects that the Programme Manager and Programme Officer would be coordinating covered a number of service areas, the salary costs for these positions would be covered as part of the project costs across shared services. It was anticipated that due to the added efficiencies these roles would deliver, a reduction of financial costs would be seen in future years.
Following the presentation of the report, Members queried the following areas in more detail:
1. Project Monitoring – Members queried how Members could monitor these projects. The Interim Director of Finance stated that they would be monitored through the Quarterly Finance and Performance monitoring reports and by CMT at its monthly Assurance meetings.
2. Career Progression – Officers explained that ideally there would be some Officers from within the Council who would apply for these roles, particularly those who already had Prince2 Project Management qualifications. It was anticipated that if the candidates were recruited from internal candidates, they could commence within 3 months. However, if they were external candidates then it would be a longer process and could potentially take up to 6 months. Members further questioned whether it would be realistic to anticipate these timelines given the difficulties previously experienced in recruiting to Local Government roles. It was reported that it was always difficult to recruit to these kinds of roles due to the high demand within the private sector and the geographical location of the Council and close proximity to other larger Councils. Some Members queried the title of the roles and commented that they were not necessarily job titles they recognised. It was confirmed that Programme Manager and Programme Officer roles were more specific to Local Government and would be recognisable within this sector.
Members felt that this was a welcome report and a constructive measure given the recommendations made by the Audit Task Group. It was further noted that hopefully the establishment of a
Programme Office would make a dramatic difference to efficiencies and what the Council could achieve in the future.
On being put to the vote Members endorsed the following recommendations to theExecutive Committee:
2) That a compliance structure be put in place to ensure delivery of projects and management of the multiple interdependencies across projects. This included:
a. A council Programme Office be established to provide oversight and validation of the delivery of projects across the organisation.
b. The roles of a Programme Manager and a Programme Officer be established to provide support for the delivery of this oversight, especially for ICT and Organisational Change projects across the organisation.