OMEGA Seminar Slider2015

Omega Seminar Series 2015

Complex Megaprojects and Systems and Decision-making: Recent advances in US infrastructure appraisal and related issues

Dr. David Wimberly, Director General /Senior Scientist, Eurisko Institute, Tallahassee, USA

28th January 2015, Central House

David Wimberly’s talk will focus on current issues in mega infrastructure analysis, appraisal, and finance in the USA and possibly the UK and EU countries. According to David Wimberly the major problem is the fact that many cities and counties are essentially “broke”. The author will illustrate a four-point solution to the plan consisting of inspection and analysis of all infrastructure, appraisal of all infrastructure, adjustment of accounting records and GIS system, and refinance of the infrastructure through the issuance of new municipal bonds. Two case studies will be discussed to show the potential benefit of this process.

The Kings Cross Redevelopment Story: Looking back at the how and why of a London mega urban redevelopment project

Prof. Peter Bishop, Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London and sometime Chief Planner, London Borough of Camden

4th February 2015, Central House

Tracing Modes of Mega Infrastructure Financing and their Effects on Cities:  A Review of the Australian Experience

Prof. Phillip O’Neill, Director, Centre for the Development of Western Sydney, University of Western Sydney, Australia

11th February 2015, Central House

Australia has been a test case for the merits of privatisation of urban infrastructure for the past three decades. This paper draws on successive Australian Research Council projects to ask three important questions. First, what is the public policy rationale for the privatisation of urban infrastructure? Second, what demands are made on the operation of urban infrastructure when their performance coincides with the need for delivery of competitive returns over long time periods? Third, what new management skills and tasks are required of government and its apparatus in order to ensure successful infrastructure rollout and operation? These questions are answered with reference to key Australian infrastructure privatisations in recent times.

Preparing to Fail by Failing to Prepare: The Paradox of Relational Contracting in the Planning, Appraisal and Delivery of UK’s Critical Infrastructure

Peter Madden, Partner & Managing Director (Buildings), EC Harris LLP, London (part of the ARCADIS group of companies)

4th March 2015, Central House

This seminar sheds light on how risk is transacted and managed at the front end phase of major infrastructure programmes in the UK and more particularly on how this is influenced by policy and its influence on the adopted contract strategy. Major programmes have a poor record for benefits realisation relative to forecast time and cost and the seminar explores the extent to which this is influenced by contract method. Major programmes appear to be more successful if the actors are permitted to collaborate in the interests of managing emergence, complexity and risk over long time horizons. The contracting method most likely to enable this is relational contracting, yet it is the least likely to be adopted. The seminar explores this paradox and my recent research developed five propositions and seven sub-propositions to answer why this should be so. Whilst the research supported the basic hypothesis, it was suggested that relational contracting may be perceived as too complex and unlikely to secure investment to support it. Major programme managers themselves found it difficult to influence contract strategy with the majority of actors leveraging policy preferences for early risk transfer through stringent classical contracts perpetuated by a lack of trust and the short term (risk averse) attitudes of project and corporate finance. Relational contracting was deemed out of step with an adversarial industry culture and the promotional efforts of past governments, advocates and clients had largely failed to secure greater adoption. The seminar concludes by suggesting steps that may be taken to influence policy and planning to advance wider adoption of relational contracting as a ‘contracting innovation’, to prepare the UK Infrastructure and Construction Industry for the more successful delivery in future, of the huge wave of infrastructure investment that will present itself over the next twenty years.

The Californian Fast Train Project: Prospects and challenges of a US mega rail project

Prof. Robert Cervero, Director, Institute of Urban & Regional Development and Director, University of California Transportation Centre, University of California at Berkeley, USA

11th March 2015, Central House

Fast Trains and Economic Development: Prospects for California. California high-speed rail proposal has been in political limbo for the past 20 years, a victim of paralysis by analysis. A stream of compromises have resulted in a patchwork of upgraded inter-city train services being introduced in hopes of mustering the political will to move forward with a $69 billion trunkline investment in the state’s central valley by 2022. Fares will come nowhere close to covering escalating capital and operating costs thus the investment’s future rides on its ability to convincingly demonstrate that wider economic benefits will be conferred. In this talk, some empirical insights are provided in this regard. Only if HSR empowers metro Los Angeles and San Francisco to become 21st century global hubs, it is argued, will direct and wider economic benefits likely exceed the project’s continually rising price tag.

Hinkley Point C: The first UK nuclear power mega-project for a generation

Dr. Nigel Knee, Head of External Affairs, Nuclear New Build UK, EDF Energy, London

25th March 2015, Central House

Managing Strategic Mega Infrastructure Assets:  A review of European institutional and capacity-building challenges

Dr. Franziska Hasselmann, Director of Studies, Executive Program in Managing Infrastructure Assets, University of St. Gallen (HSG), Switzerland

29th April 2015, Central House

This seminar will explain how an emerging European capability in institutional capacity-building is developing in efforts to better manage mega infrastructure assets in a more purposeful collective manner in attempts to increase innovation in the infrastructure construction and transport industries. The presentation highlights the interplay between the dialectic and more formal formats of mega project management practices. The former highlights the role of complex personal stakeholder disruptive experiences with public audiences. The latter highlights the role of accountability and transparency in resolving project stakeholder conflicts and challenges. The logic of the more formal model of megaproject management places much emphasis on the importance of: institution building, integrated asset management, project planning and technology management. Based on this understanding and on an appreciation of good leadership practices, the presentation emphasizes the significance of sharing common ends and mutual benefits. This advocated integrated asset management approach will be illustrated in terms of how it is set out in the new asset management standard (ISO 55 000/1/2) and how it is currently taught in the new executive education program at University of St. Gallen (CAS MIA HSG).

The Politics of HS2: UK’s next proposed fast train project

Prof. John Tomaney, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London

20th May 2015, Central House

The UK government claims that HS2 is critical to its objective of “rebalancing” the country’s economic geography. Despite the growing centrality of this claim to the case for HS2, until recently it received very little serious attention and was supported by virtually no evidence. As efforts were made to beef up the argument that HS2 is critical to the future of northern cities public support for the project declined. Yet a significant coalition of public and private actors continues to support the case for HS2 as an instrument of regional policy. This presentation examines these paradoxes and offers an explanation for them that stresses the ways in which political momentum can trump (the absence of) economic evidence.

Megaproject Lessons from the “Big Dig”

Prof. Virginia A. Greiman, School of Law & Boston Management Institute, Boston University, USA

27th May 2015, Central House

Megaprojects continue to change the face of the world as we know it, yet we know surprisingly little about these mammoth projects. This presentation will cover the unique characteristics and challenges of these large scale projects and what makes the lessons from these projects great teaching tools for projects across industries and continents. The author will share her professional experiences as Deputy Chief Counsel and Risk Manager to the Big Dig, America’s largest inner-city tunnel project and her perspectives on the myths and realities of these large scale projects. She will share ways in which project and program managers can better leverage opportunities through the lessons from megaprojects so that they may be systemically pursued.