State IT project too secret to be named

A high-risk government IT project is so secret is that it cannot even be named under the Freedom of Information Act.

A high-risk government IT project is so secret is that it cannot even be named under the Freedom of Information Act.

The information commissioner has ruled that 23 Gateway Reviews on various projects be published following an application by Computer Weekly under the FOI Act in 2006.

The projects in question include the ID cards scheme, NHS IT programme and a plan to unify benefit systems at the Department for Work and Pensions.

But the information commissioner accepted an argument put forward by Office of Government Commerce that one of the projects was too secret to have even its name revealed.

The project is deemed to fall under Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act. This excludes from the terms of the FOI Act organisations which deal with security, such as the Security Service, The Secret Intelligence Service, Government Communications HQ, special forces and the National Criminal Intelligence Services.

Information commissioner Richard Thomas said in a decision notice to Computer Weekly: "The Office of Government Commerce refused to name one project, its RAG [red, amber green] status and recommendations."

Thomas was given the name of the project and the organisation involved and accepted that the OGC was entitled to withhold the information.

The OGC has until 10 July to decide to appeal against the rest of the commissioner's ruling, which called for the OGC to publish the recommendations and the red, amber or green traffic light status on these high-risk IT-related projects:

  • Bichard Implementation Programme [Home Office] - Gateway Zero
  • EDRM [Home Office] - Gateway 4
  • Identity Cards Programme [Home Office] - Gateway 0b
  • Identity Cards Programme [Home Office] - Gateway 1
  • Single non-emergency number [Home Office] - Gateway Zero
  • Single non-emergency number [Home Office] - Gateway 0b
  • Single Transactional shared services programme STSS [Home Office] - Gateway Zero
  • Science and Research Group framework contracts [Home Office] - Gateway 2
  • VISOR - National Implementation in NOMS [Home Office] - Gateway Zero
  • Adelphi Oracle-based financial system [formerly ERP] [Home Office] - Gateway 5
  • Centralisation of Benefit Processing Project [DWP] - Gateway 0a
  • Centralisation of Benefit Processing Project [DWP] - Gateway 1
  • Pension Transformation Project [DWP] - Gateway 0a
  • WATCH {DWP] - Gateway 0a
  • IS DTC Procurement Wave 2 [Department of Health]
  • IS DTC Procurement Wave 2 [Department of Health]
  • Various NPfIT - NHS IT programme - projects [which were released last week.]

Computer Weekly's application under the FOI Act in April 2006 was for:

"The results of all Gateway reviews on high-risk IT-related projects carried out over the past year at the Home Office, Department of Health, including Connecting for Health. and the Department for Work and Pensions, including CSA."

The Information Commissioner's ruling on the Computer Weekly's application in full [approx 6Mbytes] >>

Information Commissioner orders release of 23 high-risk IT-related projects >>

16 key points in NHS IT Gateway reviews >>

Read more on IT project management

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