Government reveals failing projects

Government has published a report detailing the status of 191 major projects worth £353bn, in which eight projects were red flagged

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Outsourcing

The government has published a report detailing the progress of 191 major projects worth £353.7bn, in which eight projects were flagged with red status, which suggests on time and on budget delivery appears unachievable.

Of those eight red flags, at least four went to IT projects. 

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) £127.1m shared services programme, originally due to be completed by 2011/12, is now unlikely to be finished before 2014. Contracts for existing MoJ ERP systems have been extended to December 2014 in recognition of the delay in the programme deployment dates, said the report.

The Home Office’s £424m Application & Enrolment Contract let to CSC was also marked as red, now due to be completed over two years late by November 2014.

The Ministry of Defence had its £5bn Defence Core Network Services marked as red, and also its £1.1bn intelligence surveillance Watchkeeper project.

The annual report from the Major Projects Authority (MPA) found that of the major projects underway, more than half were flagged as green or amber/green, indicating that successful delivery is probable or highly likely.

This is an improvement on two years ago, said the report, where only 30% of projects were likely be successfully delivered.

The report labelled Universal Credit. the troubled benefits reform programme, as amber/red, which suggests successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. Urgent action is needed to ensure these are addressed, and to determine whether resolution is feasible, according to the definition for amber/red status.

However, the report claims that this rating dates back to September 2012, more than seven months ago. Since then, significant progress has been made in the delivery of Universal Credit, it said.

The £4.93m G-Cloud programme was also flagged as amber/red. 

“The [G-Cloud] programme still has a significant number of challenges to overcome to reach its stated savings objectives and its aspiration to fundamentally change central government ICT buying behaviours.  In particular, departments have yet to fully change their culture in terms of approach to ICT as old ways of doing things are so deeply engrained," said the report.

“Scaling G-Cloud has been difficult to achieve to date due to the team’s focus on the start up activities and the lack of appropriate funds and resources.”

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: “This MPA report is nothing short of ground breaking. It’s taken us longer than we hoped to get here.”

David Pitchford, chief executive of the Major Projects Authority, said: “Publishing project information will provide the incentive needed to drive up the performance of government’s major projects

“The future for the MPA will be demanding but hugely important. I am proud of what the organisation has achieved over the past two years and am extremely excited about what lies ahead.”

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Having worked on some of the programmes detailed above as an external contractor it never ceases to amaze me that lessons are not learnt from previous failures ... if the basic building blocks are not in place with appropriate levels of
governance and control around requirements management, architecture / design, project / programme delivery and contract management there are inevitably going to be problems down the line!

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When people work out how little resources the G-Cloud team have (circa 5 people seconded from other departments) they are often surprised how much they have accomplished, which is to their credit. With the International acclaim of the bold they have made is it not about time they were given what they needed to make this programme really fly?

With 800+ suppliers, 29,000 prospective buyers, at least 2 G-Cloud framework iterations per year and multiple calls for their time at conferences and BuyCamps it's no wonder we are seeing churn in the team.

The Cabinet Office now needs to invest in quality not quantity to make this a success.

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