5. Programme management

OCOGs operate in a challenging delivery environment. Along with risks related to the delivery of specific elements of the Games, OCOGs face challenges related to the management of the integrated delivery of the full programme of projects and services. OCOGs play a diversity of roles in the delivery of infrastructure and associated services: depending on the institutional arrangements as well as the infrastructure and services being procured, the OCOG may be directly conducting procurements, or setting specifications and standards and overseeing procedures by other actors. In both cases, the OCOG is responsible for ensuring the coordinated delivery of infrastructure and associated services. OCOGs are ultimately responsible for the successful delivery of a suite of venues and services, an inherently more complex task than delivering a single sports event or a single venue.

Choosing the wrong procurement strategy or failing to adequately manage delivery risks can lead to cost overruns, delays, and quality issues. The first stages of the procurement cycle – including delivery model choice and assessment of market capabilities – are of key importance, and shortcomings in these early phases may set the stage for later challenges, as they tend to be overlooked in the infrastructure procurement of sporting mega-events (OECD-IPACS, 2019[1]).

As explained in Section 1, the new delivery model seeks to provide a more efficient and cost-effective approach to event delivery. Supported by the enhanced flexibility in delivery that is a critical component of the IOC’s ‘New Norm’, the new delivery model seeks to leverage the event organisation industry’s ability to supply readymade solutions, reducing the scope and complexity for OCOGs and promoting efficiency.

This section examines those challenges in the context of the procurement and delivery of Games infrastructure and associated services, with a focus on four areas of risk:

  • Choice of delivery mode (i.e. the way in which the infrastructure asset or service will be procured and financed);

  • Market capacity and readiness;

  • Contract and supplier management; and,

  • The fast-paced environment and tight time constraints of the Games.

Selecting the delivery mode which provides the optimal value for money is critical to successful delivery. Factors such as the capabilities of the OCOG and its potential partners, the characteristics of the project or service, and the desired allocation of risks and controls (OECD, 2021[2]) should all be considered when deciding whether to bundle different components of event delivery in a single contract, as well the bidding procedures and payment mechanisms. When these key factors differ significantly between events, projects or services, imposing a single delivery mode risks costs overruns and delays. For example, a turnkey solution with payment terms that transfer significant risks to the supplier may be appropriate where there is a robust market of sophisticated suppliers, the event scope and outputs can be fully specified, and there are limited risks related to integration with the overall Games programme. However, if outputs cannot be well specified ex-ante and risks cannot be defined and measured, it may be more appropriate to implement a more traditional approach, where the OCOG would take on a project management role and be responsible for integrating multiple suppliers.

Delivery mode choice that is not grounded in an analysis of risk and uncertainty can reduce the pool of potential bidders and allocate risk inefficiently, undermining value for money. The number of parties involved in Games planning and delivery creates risk allocation challenges by making it more difficult to map the distribution of responsibilities and decision making across all of those involved. For OCOGs, risk allocation can be a particular challenge where responsibility for delivery and funding of non-sport infrastructure or services, such as transportation or security, is unclear or sits with other stakeholders.

In the case of London 2012, the OCOG was responsible for venue security operations, while the government was responsible for setting security requirements and overseeing security arrangements. By 2010, however, the government and the OCOG had not fully agreed on the responsibilities or budget for venue security: costs eventually reached over GBP 500 million from an initial GBP 29 million budget and the military and police were forced to provide thousands of additional personnel after the OCOG’s contractor was unable to fulfil its obligations (House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, 2013[5]). While a settlement was reached with the contractor to reduce payments, the OCOG was unable to transfer the full delivery risk, and ultimately bore a significant reputational cost for the high-profile failure.

The new delivery model emphasizes the need for a strong market of potential suppliers: outsourcing delivery to entities that have existing capacity and experience can reduce costs and delivery risks, but may reduce competition. For example, there may only be one existing venue that is appropriate for the Games, leading to its owner or operator having an advantageous position. Without appropriate mitigation processes in place, this has the potential to create significant risk. The OECD Recommendation on the Governance of Infrastructure advises engaging in transparent and regular dialogues with suppliers and business associations to present procurement strategies (including planning, scope, identified delivery mode, procurement method, requirements and award criteria) and to assure an accurate understanding of market capacity, while addressing possible risks of collusive practices.

A strong network of experienced and reliable suppliers is key to an efficient procurement strategy and the successful delivery of Games infrastructure and associated services. OCOGs will face significant challenges if this delivery environment, and the associated relationships, are not in place early in the Games delivery process. For example, London 2012’s heavy use of temporary venues led to challenges sourcing enough suppliers of items such as seating, toilets and other temporary infrastructure, which made up 30% of the OCOG’s procurement budget (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, 2013[10]). Whereas a typical organisation can rely on supplier capability and capacity building and continual improvement to achieve its objectives, an OCOG does not have the time or repeated market engagements required for such an approach. Much of an OCOG’s leverage is likely to be at the start of its engagement with suppliers and partners, with little or no leverage in the final stages of the Games when infrastructure and services have been delivered and the OCOG is close to dissolution (International Olympic Committee, 2019[11]).

Although inherently unique, individual projects included in the overall programme present one common trait because of their size and complexity: by far, the longest phase of the procurement cycle is contract execution. However, while pre-tendering activities and the tendering stage concentrate the attention of stakeholders, further efforts could be devoted to contract execution so objectives defined during early development phases translate into tangible achievements.

Further, limited resources available in OCOGs to manage the multitude of contracts composing the overall programme require a strategic approach to contract management, acknowledging that contractors have varying influence on the effective delivery of the Games. Contract management objectives and supplier relationship strategies need to be enshrined into projects and defined well before works or services are put to tender. As shown in the figure below, strategic contract management requires to define mechanisms and reporting requirements which would be integrated in tender documents and will form the basis on which suppliers will also be assessed based on their capabilities to adhere to reporting requirements.

Being one of the most labour-intensive activities, construction works have a direct impact on the supply base, especially for projects of large magnitude. This holds particularly true in countries where markets in the construction industry are concentrated. The impact on the supply base is further emphasized by the relative low share of cross-border procurement in OECD countries and, sometimes, local content provisions.

Those elements directly influence contract management strategies since they provide for a higher probability of suppliers holding multiple contracts in the overall programme. This calls for a transition from individual contract management to supplier relationship management. Analysing OCOGs’ portfolio of suppliers could provide insights to better rationalise the allocation of internal resources dedicated to contract management and to ensure that supplier relationship management strategies are the most effective in supporting the delivery of the programme. Indeed, suppliers’ relative importance to OCOGs in terms of risks and business value warrants for tailored contract management strategies.

This effort should first build on a structured segmentation of the supply base according to criteria based on OCOG’s values and objectives. This exercise can be supported by longstanding literature on supplier segmentation helping to allocate suppliers in the following categories.

Last, procurement for Olympic programmes often imply long and sometimes interconnected supply chains. Further, considering the high degree of specialisation of some works, specific subcontractors might provide critical inputs to the overall programme. It is therefore necessary to define contract management and supplier relationship strategies that go beyond first-tier contractors and provide OCOGs with a clear visibility on supply chains composition. This enhanced understanding of relationships between OCOGs, first-tier suppliers and subcontractors would provide critical insights to effectively manage risks posed to the execution of the whole programme as well as supply chains risks such as possible violation of human rights.

By tailoring supply contracts based on values and objectives OCOGs can ensure that contracts are efficient and well defined. This means defining contracts based on the specific interaction with suppliers and would simultaneously mitigate risks relating to insufficient financial and human resources allocated to contract management. For example, referring to figure 5.2, suppliers categorised as routine might only be subject to contractual oversight with operational involvement whereas critical or strategic suppliers would be subject to greater involvement of senior management on both ends with the view to improve performance beyond contractual obligations.

Delivery for major events like the Games is complex, and a strategy and procedures must be in place in order to deliver on time, on budget, and according to specifications. If not prepared from an early stage, a weak cost plan or unfinished project scope and requirements can create unnecessary contract and financial management difficulties, as well as variations post-contract award that can significantly raise project costs (International Olympic Committee, 2020[14]). The immovable deadline of the Games poses significant challenges: with no room for delay, there is a heightened risk of cost overruns to ensure infrastructure is delivered in time and that services meet requirements.

Failure to adequately oversee and evaluate infrastructure delivery and performance can have a negative impact on value for money throughout the infrastructure life cycle. Immovable deadlines incentivises a focus on the swift delivery of assets and less on their quality and life cycle performance or on controlling costs. If long-term operators are not involved in the procurement and delivery process, risks around life cycle performance and long-term financial viability can be significantly exacerbated.

An overly strong focus on financial criteria during the pre-tender and tender phases can encourage the selection of proponents that submit low proposals, instead of suppliers that have valuable experience in the delivery of sport infrastructure and related services (International Olympic Committee, 2020[14]). Low-balling strategies can also lead to subsequent post-contract-award negotiations and significant cost increases during implementation.

OCOGs can take advantage of a range of existing policies, tools and good practices from the world of sport and from broader infrastructure governance practice to develop the methods for programme management. These resources provide opportunities for OCOGs to assess their current practices and approaches, inform the development of their own strategies and policies, and serve as examples of good practice.

Most of these external tools do not pertain directly to sport, however, could be useful to organisers of large-scale international sporting events as they detail relevant public procurement roles and functions. The STEPS tool outlined in Table 5.2, for example, allows organisers to identify the best procurement method and approach for their specific project. Other tools provide specific advice on how to manage a project that is under tight time and constraints while adequately addressing risks.


[8] Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (2008), National Public Private Partnership Guidelines (Volume 1: Procurement Options Analysis), https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/sites/default/files/migrated/infrastructure/ngpd/files/Volume-1-Procurement-Options-Analysis-Dec-2008-FA.pdf.

[3] Global Infrastructure Hub (n.d.), Case Study: Pan Am Games Athletes’ Village, https://cdn.gihub.org/umbraco/media/2751/case-study-pan-am-games-athletes-village.pdf.

[5] House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts (2013), The London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games: post-Games review, https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmpubacc/812/812.pdf.

[14] International Olympic Committee (2020), Procurement of Major International Sport-Events-Related Infrastructure and Services: Good practices and guidelines for the Olympic movement, https://stillmed.olympic.org/media/Document%20Library/OlympicOrg/IOC/What-We-Do/Leading-the-Olympic-Movement/ipacs/Procurement-Guidelines-EN-v4.pdf#_ga=2.110570885.1600316014.1590398634-406123057.1536651541.

[11] International Olympic Committee (2019), Olympic Games Guide on Sustainable Sourcing, https://stillmed.olympics.com/media/Document%20Library/OlympicOrg/IOC/What-We-Do/celebrate-olympic-games/Sustainability/Olympic-Games-Guide-on-Sustainable-Sourcing-2019.pdf.

[10] London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (2013), London 2012 Olympic Games Official Report Volume 3.

[7] OECD (2022), The Support Tool for Effective Procurement Strategies (STEPS): Informing the Procurement Strategy of Large Infrastructure and Other Bespoke Products, https://www.oecd.org/gov/infrastructure-governance/STEPS-brochure-april-22.pdf.

[2] OECD (2021), OECD Implementation Handbook for Quality Infrastructure Investment: Supporting a Sustainable Recovery from the COVID-19 Crisis, https://www.oecd.org/finance/OECD-Implementation-Handbook-for-Quality-Infrastructure-Investment-EN.pdf.

[12] OECD (2018), Second Public Procurement Review of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS): Reshaping Strategies for Better Healthcare, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264190191-en.

[6] OECD (2017), Getting Infrastructure Right: A framework for better governance, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264272453-en.

[9] OECD (2015), Effective Delivery of Large Infrastructure Projects: The Case of the New International Airport of Mexico City, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264248335-en.

[1] OECD-IPACS (2019), Mitigating Corruption Risks in the Procurement of Sporting Events, https://www.oecd.org/gov/public-procurement/mitigating-corruption-risks-procurement-sporting-events-IPACS.pdf.

[4] Office of the Auditor General of Ontario (2016), Special Report: 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/specialreports/specialreports/2015panam_june2016_en.pdf.

[13] Runar Stalsberg (2018), Contract Management in Avinor.

[15] Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (2022), Tokyo 202 Official Report (Volume 1), https://library.olympics.com/Default/doc/SYRACUSE/2954165/tokyo-2020-official-report-the-tokyo-organising-committee-of-the-olympic-and-paralympic-games#.

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