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New code published to help build better governance in infrastructure projects

Date
07 February 2023

The code, produced by Project 13 and the ICE, sets out best practice to enable better business decisions.

New code published to help build better governance in infrastructure projects
The code aims to provide the right conditions for better decision-making.

How to create good governance, which enables better project decisions, is the focus of a new code, developed by the Infrastructure Client Group’s Project 13 and published by the ICE.

The Infrastructure Governance Code is a collaborative, cross-industry code that provides a structured system of good practice to improve governance in infrastructure projects and programmes.

Launched in January at the ICE, the code aims to enable better project outcomes by providing the right conditions for better decision-making.

The code has been developed by Project 13 – a community of global infrastructure organisations brought together by the Infrastructure Client Group (ICG) that are working together to establish new delivery models.

Such models are needed if industry is going to tackle the significant challenges it faces – not only the climate crisis, but also the pressures created by a growing global population with expectations of better living standards.

Good governance is seen as being critical to addressing these challenges and enabling positive outcomes, not only for those sponsoring and developing projects but for society and the world.

What is in the code?

Speaking at the launch, Miles Ashley, chair of the Project 13 Governance Group responsible for the code, outlined how it’s been developed with input from practitioners across infrastructure and how it’s been designed.

In particular, it addresses the need for guidance on how the boards that govern major projects should be established and how they should operate. This has largely been missing from existing reports and guidance.

The code is structured around principles organised into six themes, to be used on a ‘comply or explain’ basis.

This means that where compliance has not been achieved, an action should be developed to achieve compliance, or else an explanation must be provided for non-compliance.

The principles, in turn, are expanded via a number of provisions that suggest what needs to be done, although not how to achieve it. This is left to the user to determine in their specific time and context to align with the goals of the project and the enterprise.

Ashley explained how the code’s system of good governance practice allows for constructive challenge, which is essential for creating the right environment to support effective decision-making.

Helping to improve efficiency, effectiveness and productivity

David Porter, ICE Vice President, said the production of the code built on recent work by the institution on improving the efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of infrastructure.

These projects, he said, align directly with the ICE’s vision of a world which maximises the use of infrastructure systems to support sustainable outcomes that are firmly rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speaking on behalf of the UK government, Nick Smallwood, CEO of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), said they are investing more money than ever in infrastructure, with its National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline amounting to nearly £650 billion over the coming decade.

Smallwood explained how, with its ‘comply or explain’ approach, the Infrastructure Governance Code can be adapted to a project’s context and serves to complement the guidance contained in the IPA’s Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030 modules.

In particular, he said, it provides a basis for sponsors to develop an increased trust in project boards, the governance they deliver, and their focus on optimising a project’s outcomes.

"We must ensure projects are established and governed in a way that sets them up for success from the start, meaning they are delivered on time and within budget," he said.

Setting higher standards for the future

Smallwood also said that the Infrastructure Governance Code, and the associated IPA guidance, seek to establish a higher standard for future delivery governance, in order to drive project delivery to a place it has never been. A place with innovation, digital transformation and protecting the planet at its heart.

The Transpennine Route Upgrade programme has been a keen adopter of the Project 13 ‘enterprise’ delivery model and an early adopter of the Infrastructure Governance Code, now applying its principles in their programme.

Neil Holm, managing director, Transpennine Route Upgrade at Network Rail, explained how they have created a ‘one team’ enterprise organisation to drive teamwork and integration, change behaviours and build the right capability.

This is helping them to address their key programme risk of not delivering the right outcomes for passengers and freight, he said.

The code has been formally endorsed by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), Association of Project Managers (APM), Major Projects Association (MPA) and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Through its widespread adoption and use, it is hoped that the code can systematically optimise outcomes, support enterprise delivery models, help structure governance reviews and set a standard of evolving good practice that will benefit all.

Related links

  • Simon Hall, knowledge insights manager at Institution of Civil Engineers