The Major Projects Authority (MPA), which is part of the UK Cabinet Office, replaced the Major Projects Directorate in the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in April 2011. It operates as a partnership between the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, reporting jointly to the Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
The MPA conducts assurance and OGC Gateway Reviews (which retain their original branding) for major programmes and projects. One of the main differences in remit between the MPA and OGC is that a Starting Gate review, or equivalent, is now mandatory for all new programmes and projects. The purpose of the Starting Gate is to assess deliverability before project delivery starts.
The Starting Gate was the natural evolution of the Gateway review process. When the methodology was first launched with Gates 1 to 5 it quickly became clear that Gate 1, which reviewed the business case, was already too late in the programme lifecycle. By then, many of the fundamental issues that would cause failure had been agreed upon by ministers, and it was difficult to do anything about them.
The Gate 0, programme only review was included in the revised version of the methodology to pick up issues earlier, but also to respond to the growing use of programmes rather than large projects to control delivery. But once again, OGC’s reviews and research showed that this was still too late.
Mandatory Starting Gates and regular public reporting are seen by the UK government as key planks in the oversight of the portfolio of the highest risk, highest value major projects in the public sector.
By comparison, other jurisdictions that use the OGC Gateway Review process have not followed suit, even in the Australian states that mandate them.