IT is at the heart of the government's modernisation and efficiency plans. Central government spends 2.3bn a year on IT - equivalent to 16% of total procurement expenditure.
The Office of Government Commerce was established in April 2000 to promote best value for money in procurement, with IT being a major focus.
Initiatives the OGC has introduced include:
- Gateway reviews - independent reviews of IT-enabled programmes at critical points in their lifecycles
- Successful Delivery Toolkit - an online guide to procurement policy, tools and good practice
- Successful Delivery Skills Programme and the Programme and Project Management Specialism - to develop and promote professional delivery and project management skills in departments
- Departmental centres of excellence - to support specific programmes and projects by providing oversight and advice, and working to enhance skills and capacities.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said the OGC had experienced a varying response to its initiatives. The OGC admitted its Successful Delivery Toolkit was difficult to use and was sometimes confusing and contradictory. It is being upgraded.
The Successful Delivery Skills Programme and the Programme and Project Management Specialism are a comprehensive set of tools, training and development actions to help improve the management of projects. But the committee noted a reluctance of government departments to adopt either scheme.
"There remains, therefore, a shortfall in appropriate programme and project management skills across departments generally," the report said.
The committee praised the OGC for working closely with IT suppliers, particularly with trade organisation Intellect, to develop a mutually beneficial relationship.
"This work has included drawing up frameworks and codes of practice with the aim of making their respective roles and responsibilities clearer, but these have yet to have an impact within departments or project teams," the report said.
On the flagship Gateway review process, the committee's report suggested that government departments do not see the process as valuable.
Only 45% of senior responsible owners in departments responded to requests for feedback on the effectiveness of Gateway reviews. The information was needed for the OGC to develop its review process further, the MPs said.