Shake-up of government IT likely in Tory manifesto

The Conservatives plan a radical reform of government IT in their manifesto, including a moratorium on existing and upcoming IT procurements and a £100m cap on projects.

The Conservatives plan a radical reform of government IT in their manifesto, including a moratorium on existing and upcoming IT procurements and a £100m cap on projects.

Conservative Central Office has told Computer Weekly that the proposals in its paper "Delivering Change" will be included in the party's manifesto, subject to any changes before the manifesto is published.

The Tories also revealed plans to publish all IT contracts and up-to-date reports on Gateway reviews, which are independent assessments of risky projects and programmes.

And they will expect senior responsible owners - the official designated owners of large projects - to remain in place for the life of the project or programme. At present projects, including the NHS IT scheme NPfIT, have several senior responsible owners.

Francis Maude, Conservative shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, which is responsible for government IT, told Computer Weekly that the IT proposals in "Delivering Change" represent "well thought out intentions" which could be changed or added to.

He said the proposed £100m cap on IT projects was not set in stone. "It is not a rigid limit. It is a presumption that as a rule projects should be smaller than £100m because the bigger the size, the bigger the risk and the bigger the power of a few suppliers."

Giles Kenningham, a spokesman for Conservative Central Office, said the party plans to include pledges such as a moratorium on procurements, a £100m limit on projects and the publication of IT contracts and up-to-date Gateway reviews in its manifesto.

He said the "policies" may be added to once a consultation process is over. "These are Conservative proposals. These issues will be spelt out in the manifesto and in our Campaign Guide."

Asked if the Conservatives are unclear about whether their pledges are firm policies or not, Maude said: "I am willing for us to be judged on what we do in practice. Any opposition is working on imperfect information by definition and at the end of it we need to be judged on what we actually do."

HM Revenue and Customs CIO Phil Pavitt supports the idea of a £100m limit on IT projects and programmes. He is reported to have told a Govnet IT conference: "£100m is never £100m - in a £100m programme, people forget why they started, and the people responsible at the outset are rarely there at the end I have met many programme directors who have said 'I'm doing a £100m programme'. I say 'I feel very sorry for you. Ring me back when you're doing a £20m one'."

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