Mandatory reviews for public sector IT projects

A mandatory review procedure is to be applied to all public sector IT projects in a bid to end high-profile disasters.

A mandatory review procedure is to be applied to all public sector IT projects in a bid to end high-profile disasters.

Guy Campos

Andrew Smith, chief secretary to the Treasury, has announced that use of the Office of Government Commerce's gateway review process is to be made compulsory.

Announcing the decision, Smith said, "We now have a commercially minded, reliable management system - the Gateway Process - that can be applied to every major Government project."

Pilot Gateway reviews of IT and property procurements have identified potential savings of 5%, or £500m, on central Government procurement.

Peter Gershon, chief executive of the OGC, said, "The introduction of the five stages of the Gateway Process will ensure that projects that have not met our rigid criteria will fail to proceed."

The first gateway review involves justifying the business case, the second involves approving the procurement method and the third the approval of the contract award.

There is a substantial gap until gateway four, which tests whether the project is ready to go live; and gateway five takes place towards the end of the project's life, identifying whether it has delivered planned benefits.

The gateway reviews will be carried out by independent experts, who will be sponsored by the OGC and will report to a senior officer responsible for the project.

Gershon said analysis of the pilots did not show the need for interim reviews between the gateways, but added, "It is open to departments to convene interim reviews if they think it will be of benefit."

National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee reports into projects such as the Pathway, Post Office and Benefit payment card system, and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate IT debacle revealed that the projects ran into considerable difficulties between the awarding of a contract and the delivery of systems.

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