December 2023 UK Project Management Round Up


Good Sponsors (Accounting Officer Reports,

National Audit Office Report on Levelling Up,

Aviva Studios), Bad Sponsors, Energy Projects

(Wind offshore, Onshore projects, Hydro),

Association News (APM Fellows Forum,

Volunteer Achievement Awards, Project wins award,

3 new Trustees, APM Awards), and

Wildlife Photographer of the Year



By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK


Well, winter is firmly upon us and the year ends in a few weeks’ time, so this edition brings you news of project sponsors, how they are performing and some help for these much-maligned players in the Project World.  There is news of a major project in the Highlands of Scotland which promises to be a game changer for the environment and there has been a lot happening at the Association for Project Management and for those few of you who missed these, I will update you.  We also have news of some energy projects and a few odds and ends that are not easily classified.


  • Accounting Officer Reports. The nearest thing to Project Sponsors in UK Governmental terms must be the Accounting Officer.  These are not mythical beasts but the person who Parliament calls to account for stewardship of its resources. Accounting Officers are required to “routinely scrutinise significant policy proposals or plans to start or vary major projects and then assess whether they measure up to the expected standards, as detailed in Managing Public Money”.  Accordingly, every Government Department has to assess the viability of all projects or programmes which form part of the government’s Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP). Projects are assessed against 4 criteria: regularity, propriety, value for money and feasibility.  Readers will no doubt recall the demise of HS2 – this was the result of the Accounting Officer Assessment of Phase 2 of the project – so they are powerful people.  Summaries are also published on https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ as part of the Government’s open government initiative.
  • National Audit Office Report (NAO) on Levelling Up. For overseas readers, the leveling up programme is a government-wide approach to reduce geographical inequality in a broad range of economic and social measures across the UK.  The snappily named Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) leads on funding, managing allocations from 3 funds – these funds are worth up to £10.6 billion and aim to allocate £9.5 billion to local places to be spent by 31 March 2026.  The NAO reported on its review of the management of the funding for levelling up at the end of November and broadly found the situation to satisfactory in that the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) has found that DLUHC has improved its oversight of its major levelling-up funds and thus its project passes the value for money criteria despite expected late delivery due mainly to the impact of inflation
  • Aviva Studios. Situated on the old Granada TV Studios site, this project completed in October.  It is the biggest state-funded cultural project for 25 years at £242 million.  Aviva Studios is a 1,500-seat theatre, multipurpose venue with warehouse space Opened almost a decade after George Osborne, the former chancellor, announced it would be part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative, it came in well over it’s initial budget of £78 million but was judged by the project sponsors to meet its benefit profile.

Image: Factory International

The final bill was funded by the Treasury picking up about half the cost while Aviva (the UK insurance giant) bought the naming rights for £35 million and Manchester City Council and Arts Council England stumped up the rest.


To read entire report, click here

How to cite this report: Shepherd, M. (2023). Project Management Roundup from the UK, report, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue V, May. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/pmwj136-Dec2023-Shepherd-UK-project-management-roundup-report-1-1.pdf

About the Author

Miles Shepherd

Salisbury, UK


 Miles Shepherd is an executive editorial advisor and international correspondent for PM World Journal in the United Kingdom. He is also managing director for MS Projects Ltd, a consulting company supporting various UK and overseas Government agencies, nuclear industry organisations and other businesses.  Miles has over 30 years’ experience on a variety of projects in UK, Eastern Europe and Russia.  His PM experience includes defence, major IT projects, decommissioning of nuclear reactors, nuclear security, rail and business projects for the UK Government and EU.  His consulting work has taken him to Japan, Taiwan, USA and Russia.  Past Chair and Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM), Miles is also past president and chair and a Fellow of the International Project Management Association (IPMA).  He was, for seven years, a Director for PMI’s Global Accreditation Centre and is immediate past Chair of the ISO committee developing new international standards for Project Management and for Program/Portfolio Management.  He is currently Chairman of the British Standards Institute project management committee.  He was involved in setting up APM’s team developing guidelines for project management oversight and governance.  Miles is based in Salisbury, England and can be contacted at miles.shepherd@msp-ltd.co.uk.

To view other works by Miles Shepherd, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/miles-shepherd/.