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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

16 Oct 12. Committee of Public Accounts. HM Treasury and Cabinet Office: Assurance for Major Projects. Chair: The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said, “My Committee has long been concerned that government too often turns a blind eye to warning signs of impending failure of its major projects. The Major Projects Authority was set up in 2011 to improve performance on delivering big projects. There are some signs of better decision making – for instance, stopping the NHS programme for IT. But these are just first steps. With a sharply cut workforce and a budget of just £6 million a year to oversee over 200 projects with a value of £376 billion, the Agency cannot achieve what it was set up to do. It has to focus on only the biggest and most risky projects. Even then, it has to rely on the individual departments to play their part. Over a third of departments have been slow to adopt a new assurance system. By establishing the Major Projects Leadership Academy, the Authority is finally addressing the weaknesses in project management skills of civil servants. But teaching these skills is only half the battle. The Authority has to make sure that, once trained, these senior civil servants stay on the job and see it through. We are also concerned that the Government has not met its commitment to transparency and published information on the status of major projects. In the light of widespread concerns over larger projects, such as whether Universal Credit can be delivered on time and within budget, we need to receive annual updates on performance.“ Margaret Hodge was speaking as the Committee published its 14th Report of this Session which, on the basis of evidence from the Major Projects Authority, HM Treasury and an expert witness from the private sector, examined how the new central assurance scheme was progressing.
The Major Projects Authority (the Authority) was set up in 2011

House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 17 Oct 2012

Afghanistan

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to improve public understanding of the work of the armed forces in Afghanistan. [121796]

Mr Robathan: Public understanding of the contribution of the armed forces to the overall NATO/ISAF mission in Afghanistan and the pursuit of Her Majesty’s Government’s foreign and security policy objectives is advanced through a variety of methods. We invite journalists, commentators and documentary makers to join members of the armed forces in theatre so that they can experience their achievements in Afghanistan first hand and gain a better understanding of the circumstances under which our troops are operating. We organise regular ministerial and other VIP visits with accompanying media coverage. In addition, we often arrange briefings for the media, both in Afghanistan and the UK, on operational developments. News articles and updates for the media and general public are posted daily on the Ministry of Defence and armed forces’ websites, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Aircraft Carriers

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how many months of the year the Queen Elizabeth class carrier will be operational. [122776]

Mr Dunne: The decision to revert to a Short Take Off Vertical Landing design carrier, announced by the Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), on 10 May 2012, Official Report, columns 140-42, will give us the ability to use both Queen Elizabeth class carriers to provide continuous carrier availability at sea. A final decision on the use of the second carrier will be taken as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015.

Mr Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many sorties can be flown from a Queen Elizabeth class carrier in 24 hours. [122777]

Mr Dunne: The Queen Elizabeth (QE) class aircraft carrier wil

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