Government use of interim executives soars as General Election approaches

  • Coalition using interims to push through projects before the next election
  • Day rates have shot up for interim managers

There has been a surge in interim executives being hired in the public sector as the Government rushes to complete projects before the next General Election,* says Interim Partners, a leading provider of interim management solutions.

Interim Partners says that 43% of all interim assignments were in the Public Sector in the first three months of 2013, up over a half from the 28% in the last of quarter of 2012.

The soaring demand for interim executives in the public sector has pushed their day rates up to £704 – the highest they have been for more than two years. For interims working in central Government, the figure has hit £839 a day.

High Profile projects that the Government has been accelerating using interim managers include:

  • The UK Borders Digital Transformation, part of a project to make the Home Office a “digital department” by 2015 with applications for “visit visas” to be fully digitised.
  • A £500m change programme for 125 prisons and 35 probation trusts for the National Offender Management Service (Ministry of Justice)

Interim Partners says that many Government departments have been temporarily holding back from using interim executives until the findings of the Comprehensive Spending Review have been announced. However, now those results are public, the number of interim executives being used in the Public Sector is likely to climb again.

David Hunter comments: “The Coalition Government has been reluctant to make use of senior interim executives. Now however, they are becoming keener to utilise them to ensure that projects are driven to successful completion swiftly so that they have a full impact before the next General Election which is due in May 2015.”

Interim Partners explains that in May 2012, the Treasury announced a crackdown on Government staff working ‘off payroll’, meaning that staff at director-level and above are expected to be on the payroll, apart from in exceptional circumstances.

David Hunter continues: “Previously, there has been a great deal of sensitivity across Government when it came to engaging senior interim executives. That is now being tempered by the pressing need to drive significant projects to completion in the most timely and cost effective manner possible. Interim managers are perfectly placed to achieve this.”

“Interim executives represent tremendous value for money when the scale of what they deliver is taken into account. Delivering multi billion pound projects on time and on budget requires a very specific skillset. Hiring interim managers who can demonstrate these kinds of skills from prior successes is a very sensible option when time is in short supply.”

Interim Partners says that it has also seen more willingness recently for government departments to use interim managers to help fix projects that have been difficult to deliver on time and on budget. For example, several interim have recently been hired by the Ministry of Defence to resolve issues with the troubled Carrier Strike Project, which was originally launched in 2007 but which has been hit by delays and cost overruns.

* Based on interim management assignment that have recently come to an end. Research by Ipsos MORI for the Interim Management Association.

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