Project Office: assistance in high-quality planning, preparation and implementation of the Akimat projects

Goal. Ensuring high quality, timeliness of implementation and budgetary efficiency of plans (projects) for the city development.

With the development of project management in the country and the city, as well as accumulation of experience in implementation and support of ADC projects, the project activities of the ADC have evolved and have reached a new level. 

The Project Office of the Almaty Akimat was established at the ADC for implementation of the Almaty Development Program and other program documents. Thus, the ADC is developing as a center of urban project management, carrying out consulting and methodological functions. 

The importance of this direction is constantly updated and increasing due to the fact that project management, which directly affects the quality of implementation of the city's development plans, is a key link in achieving the goals and objectives of not only the Almaty Development Program, but also of the UN SDG. 

The project management development is carried out in two directions - support of project activities of the Almaty Akimat (Project Office) and project analysis.

Objective 1. Ensuring the formation of a high-quality portfolio of projects for the city development, expert support, coordination and monitoring of their implementation

As part of supporting the project activities of the Almaty Akimat, the ADC, as one of the two organizations where the Project Office of the Almaty Akimat is deployed, assists the Akimat departments in implementation of projects from the Almaty Development Program for the period 2021-2025. In order to streamline these activities, the following Basic Direction Implementation Groups (BDIG) were established: 

At Almatygenplan Research Institute LLP
•    Polycentric Development; 
•    Development of the Transport System; 

At JSC Almaty Development Center 
•    Improving the Quality of Services in the Housing and Utilities Sector; 
•    Safe City; 
•    Green Almaty; 
•    Sustainable Economic Growth;
•    Support for the Youth, Culture and Sports Development; 
•    Inclusive Environment, Education and Healthcare; 
•    Smart City;
•    Development of Public Administration.

The main goal of implementation of the basic direction projects is to achieve the strategic goals of the Almaty City development, such as creation of a favorable investment environment, sustainable economic growth, ensuring the safety and comfort of citizens’ life, development of infrastructure and the transport system, as well as improving the quality of services in the housing and utilities sector, the effectiveness of which will be measured through improving Almaty's position in The Global Liveability Index (EIU) and improving the level of satisfaction of the city population with the work of local executive bodies.

Support of project activities includes the following tasks: 
•    Introduction of project management to improve the quality and effective implementation of the Akimat projects. A project management methodology will be developed – provisions, procedures and templates for project activities.  Random project audits will be conducted to ensure that project management regulations and procedures are properly applied. To assess the quality of project implementation, customer surveys will be conducted on a regular basis.
•    Creation of a project monitoring system, assessment of the results of project activities in Almaty;
•    Information support of the Akimat's project activities;
•    Promotion of project management tools based on Kazakhstan standards; improvement of administrative, methodological and technological support of project activities; improvement of the competencies of project participants and providing them with consulting and methodological support.  

ADC coordinates the work of the Project Office of the Almaty Akimat organizationally, and methodological and consulting support for project implementation is provided by the BDIG. The work of the BDIG is supervised by the Heads of Basic Directions (Deputy Akim of Almaty, Head of the Digitalization Department, Head of the Office of the Almaty Akim), who, together with the Head of the Project Office of the Almaty Akimat (Chairman of the Board of the ADC), are members of and subordinate to the Steering Committee headed by the Almaty Akim.

The ADC, in its position as coordinator, will seek to ensure cross-sectoral interaction of the BDIGs by bringing issues of this nature to the attention of the Steering Committee. 

At the time of drawing up the Program of Development of the ADC, the Project Office is at the stage of transition from preparation to practical implementation of the city's projects. Thus, the Steering Committee was created under the chairmanship of the city Akim, which includes international independent experts. Regulatory documents of the Project Office were adopted (Regulations on the Project Office, Regulations on the Steering Committee, Procedure for Interaction of Project Participants), the composition of the BDIGs was almost completely set, also some structural divisions and staff units were created in the ADC, which are filled in by certified professionals in project management. The Register of the Akimat projects has been prepared, which are regularly submitted for review by the Steering Committee, and work is underway to amend the national legislation on project management.

In general, within the framework of the goal «Development of the ADC in the field of innovation«, which involves the development of the ADC as a digital and physical platform for uniting the interests, resources and efforts of parties from various fields, with various organizational and legal forms that coincide in interests, goals and ideas related to the innovative development of the city as a whole and individual sectors in particular, the ADC will provide organizational and administrative support, and coordination of the BDIGs work.

Introduction of project management to improve the manageability and quality of the Akimat projects. 

As a matter of priority, work will be carried out on introduction of the Project Management Information System (PMIS) in the Project Office of the city of Almaty with the provision of full-cycle services: analysis of systems and selection of the most suitable one, taking into account the features of the City Development Program and the requirements of the Almaty Akimat; launch and testing; system support and maintenance; evaluation of the results and efficiency of the system. The PMIS will become a key tool for the project management development: it will include all information on the Akimat projects and through it will ensure the automation of project management processes. 

The ADC will ensure the connection of the participants of the Akimat's project activities to the PMIS, as well as provision with practical assistance in using the system.

In addition, interaction with the National Projects Monitoring Office, central and local government agencies will be ensured; participation of responsible representatives of the divisions of the Akimat at regular scrum meetings devoted to implementation of the Almaty City Development Plan for 2021-2025, national projects, etc.

BDIGs will be involved in project planning and coordination, project team building, budget and resource management, and project monitoring and control. In order to effectively manage projects and achieve the set goals, the BDIGs will use advanced methods and technologies of project management. 

Formation of a project monitoring system, assessment of the results of project activities in Almaty. The ADC will constantly monitor and evaluate the results of implementation of the Akimat's projects in order to further improve project activities in the Almaty Akimat.

The Situational-Analytical Center (SAC) of the Project Office will perform the following functions:
-    ensuring collection, processing and provision of information on implementation of national projects, in the parts related to the city of Almaty;
-    situational analysis of the degree of achievement of target indicators for timely response to changes and adjustments of projects, tasks and activities;
-    ensuring the input of actual values of target indicators into the dashboards of the project management information system;
-    analysis and monitoring of implementation of projects, activities and tasks within the framework of national projects;
-    preparation of recommendations for adjusting projects, activities and tasks in case of lagging behind the planned indicators, as well as based on the results of situational analysis and assessment of the status of their implementation.

SAC will closely cooperate with the Sitcenter of the ADC in the formation of a single system for collecting, storing, processing and visualizing data and information on the life of the city of Almaty, including projects being implemented in the city, as well as in conducting analysis to identify problematic issues and develop solutions to them together with interested urban communities. 

Information support of the Akimat's project activities. The Project Office, together with the Communications Office of the ADC, will provide active communications with citizens and other stakeholders to identify promising areas of project activities, inform about the progress of planning and implementation of the Akimat projects, conduct proactive explanatory work to reach consensus on implementation of individual projects, receive feedback for analysis and consideration in further work.

Promotion of project management tools based on international standards; improvement of administrative, methodological and technological support of project activities; increasing the competencies of project participants and providing them with consulting and methodological support. This task is aimed at increasing the level of project maturity of the Akimat, its subordinate and subsidiary organizations, and will be implemented in three directions. 

The first direction is the analysis of international experience in the field of project management to identify the most effective practices, the development of recommendations and work on their implementation.

The second direction is that the ADC will actively assist the Akimat in improving the quality of project planning and implementation, using advanced project management methods and tools. An analysis of project management processes in the Almaty Akimat will be carried out, they will be compared with the requirements established in the regulatory acts, discrepancies will be identified and eliminated. Project management processes will also be regularly updated and adapted in accordance with changes in regulatory requirements. 

The third direction is to provide consulting and methodological support to project participants and improve their competencies. Within the framework of this direction, the ADC will provide the following services: development of methodological recommendations for planning, evaluation and monitoring of projects; consulting support of projects at all stages of their implementation, including assessment of possible risks, selection of optimal strategies and tactics for project implementation, determination of the necessary resources and control over compliance with deadlines; training of project participants in project management techniques, including seminars and workshops, etc.

The project management development in the Almaty Akimat will increase the efficiency of project implementation and will contribute to ensuring the sustainable city development in accordance with the set goals and strategic plans. Thanks to this, the city will be able to become more comfortable and attractive for residents and investors, as well as increase its economic and social potential. 

Objective 2. Timely and high-quality (in accordance with the legal act requirements) provision of services to the Akimat for expert review of state investment projects and other financial-economic issues

Expert review of the projects implemented by the ADC includes: 
•    Conducting economic expert review of budget investments (financial-economic evaluation and feasibility study since 2010); 
•    Conducting expert review of local PPP projects (since 2016).

The ADC also contributed to the growth of the efficiency of project activities and budget investments. For the period of 2010–2022, the ADC issued 277 opinions on financial-economic evaluation, feasibility studies, and PPP, of which negative opinions were issued for 12 projects. In addition, for the period of 2010-2022, 12 projects were sent for revision due to unjustified investments and the availability of own funds.

In the coming period, the ADC will continue to ensure effective investment and use of budget funds by performing expert reviews and other tasks in terms of increasing the budgetary efficiency of the implemented projects for the city development.

As part of this activity, the ADC will continue to conduct expert reviews of feasibility studies of budget investment projects, financial-economic evaluations of budget investments and local PPP projects. The following functions are planned:
•    Monitoring and evaluation of implementation of local budget investments;
•    Verification of tariff calculations and analysis of financial and economic issues related to the urban economy.

Monitoring and evaluation of implementation of local budget investments. The current activities of the ADC are related to the work of the Almaty Akimat in terms of planning budget investments and local PPP projects, where the ADC conducts expert reviews of projects and planned investments for validity and effectiveness, as well as feasibility and efficiency. Based on the results of such reviews, the ADC gives recommendations, on which basis further selection of projects and investments and/or their revision takes place. In terms of monitoring, the ADC will contribute to implementation of activities to analyze information on the progress of project implementation from the moment of budget funds allocation.

Verification of tariff calculations and analysis of financial and economic issues related to the urban economy. The ADC will continue to assist in the verification of tariff calculations and subsidies, as well as on carriers' losses related to implementation of socially significant passenger transportation. The ADC will also continue to carry out analytical work on financial and economic issues related to the urban economy.