Civil servants will learn to save £40bn

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The Independent Online

Senior civil servants are being sent back to school to brush up their management skills as part of a Government overhaul intended to shave £40bn off the cost of forthcoming "major projects".

The Government will today outline plans to establish a Major Projects Leadership Academy at Oxford University allowing it to ditch costly external consultants and hand their work to senior civil servants.

The academy, based in the Said Business School, has been developed with Lord Browne of Madingley, the former BP chief executive, and will train about 50 people a year, with each student taking three five-day residential courses.

It will cost £6m to set up and a few more million pounds to run, but could take £40bn, or 10 per cent, off the 200 projects that the Cabinet Office Major Projects Authority has planned over the next 10 to 15 years.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: "This is an important step in our plans to reform the civil service . We want to build world-class project leadership skills within the government. When it comes to major projects, this Government means business... Crucially, this will relinquish taxpayers from having to foot the bill for external consultancy to deliver the projects and services the country needs."

So-called large projects include the Crossrail train service in London, the High Speed rail link between London and Birmingham and the Universal Credit Programme shake-up of the welfare system.