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IPA sets out framework for AI in public projects

AI in head icon over tablet computer
Image source: Jarerndee

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) has published a new framework setting out how AI can be harnessed to boost productivity in public project delivery.

Titled Data Analytics and AI in Government Project Delivery, it has been co-authored with the Central Digital and Data Office, the Major Projects Association and the Association for Project Management, and with input from the No.10 Data Science Team.

It says there are five priorities in creating the conditions for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of projects, and encourages responsible experimentation with AI.

The IPA added that it will work with AI leaders across government on a series of pilot projects, the most successful of which will have the potential to be rolled out more widely.

First of the five priorities is to build data skills and capability at scale, with clear roles and career paths, and ensuring that there are sufficient in-house skills to be a ‘smart’ procurer of services and tools. Government will work with its partners and professional bodies to articulate the range of possible alternatives.

Second is better data and availability, ensuring it is in standardised formats on modern, future proof systems and held in a condition that makes it findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

Evidence for decisions

Third is evidence based decision making, using resources such as the new Government Reporting Integration Platform for project data and the IPA Benchmarking Data Service for sharing the data. The report says this will provide the flexibility to benchmark at various levels for different types of projects.

In addition, the IPA will work with the Data Science team in No10 (10DS) on applying innovation and new technologies.

Fourth is experimenting together, with the IPA and the Projects Council convening experiments and conversions on use cases of AI, experiments with different datasets and skills, informing investment and promoting the use of promising opportunities.

As part of encouraging adoption the IPA is planning to work with various bodies to promote new business processes and ways of working.

Fifth is broader collaboration through the development of data partnerships. The report cites the existing Project Data Analytics Taskforce as an example.

The report also recommends that barriers to sharing data are removed where appropriate, by developing common standards, infrastructure and processes, so that the potential of new technology can be realised.

Savings for taxpayer

Cabinet Office Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: “The innovation we are seeing in data analytics and AI has the potential to significantly benefit government project delivery and, even more important, to save the taxpayer money.

“As a former business executive I am delighted that our new framework sets out our determination to explore the possibilities further through collaboration, upskilling and experimentation.”

Karina Singh, director of function, insights and profession at the IPA, said: “The use of advancing technologies, especially AI, is a topic of broad and current interest.”

“This paper cuts through the noise to provide a framework of actions we can use to experiment with and upskill project delivery professionals to get the most out of this fast moving development.”

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