CSSA report slammed



Mike Simons

The public accounts watchdog has reacted angrily to a report by IT suppliers on government IT failures.

David Davis,...



Mike Simons

The public accounts watchdog has reacted angrily to a report by IT suppliers on government IT failures.

David Davis, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, has slammed parts of the report, Getting IT Right for Government, produced by the Computing Services & Software Association (CSSA) today (Thursday).

"It's like the burglar blaming the policeman," said Davis about the report.

The report condemned current procurement practice, saying, "it has the effect of damaging projects before they have even been established".

Public spending guardians the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office were also in the firing line, with the report saying they "can have a negative effect. They are seen as a threat by some civil servants, stifling innovation and proper focus on value."

John Higgins, director general of the CSSA, said the report followed months of discussions between IT suppliers and government IT managers and called for the continuation of discussion through a high-level forum.

The CSSA report aimed to complement the Cabinet Office Central IT Unit's Successful IT: Modernising Government in Action report, published last month, Higgins explained.

Higgins welcomed many of the Cabinet Office's conclusions and said, "What is critical is that the recommendations of both CSSA and Citu should be acted on."

However, he added, "We are disappointed that more is not made of the considerable expertise that suppliers have to offer."

The report said, "Government needs to move away from a tendency to focus on and consequently use suppliers as scapegoats for problems."

Davis dismissed this argument as "a hoary old excuse". He said, "We hear from the civil servants that the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office make them risk averse. The real issue is that it is necessary to manage risk."

Getting IT Right for Government: key points

  • IT suppliers must recognise the constraints and drivers of the civil servant. Government should adapt its culture and processes where these are seen to be creating barriers against successful projects

  • The formation of a joint Government and industry senior forum is essential

  • Each project must have an empowered champion at senior level who is accountable for its success

  • Read more on IT for government and public sector

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