Gate Zero is an assessment technique applied at the start of a programme or project and is designed to confirm that the scheme has been established with appropriate management structures, resources and stakeholder support.
Andrew Smith, chief secretary to the Treasury, said, "The development of a further business test will ensure that taxpayers' money is spent wisely and puts government at the leading edge of project management."
Peter Gershon, chief executive of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), which designed the technique, added, "The Gate Zero Review [is trying] to test departmental thinking about projects at an even earlier stage."
The latest test is based on information collated from the first 100 projects to undergo Gateway Reviews.
Launched in February, the Gateway Review process was implemented to put an end to previous high-profile IT project failures such as those that hit the Passport Office and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate. It aims to ensure that all major civil central government procurement projects in IT, construction and property management undergo strict business tests.
Officials at the OGC claim that Gate Zero will help keep these projects firmly in line with government strategy.
Gershon said, "It will help, encourage and support departments in innovative thinking as part of wider public service reform."
Although the NHS, which has also suffered from IT project failure, is currently not using the Gateway Review process, Gershon said this was under discussion.
Experts welcomed the addition of Gate Zero to the Gateway Review. Nigel Lee, practice director of management consultancy Hedra, said, "This puts programmes and projects under the spotlight at their inception and helps make sure that appropriate project management procedures and practices are established at the outset."
The test also helps spot projects with insufficient commitment from senior management, he added.
The Government said earlier this year that Gateway pilots had identified potential value for money improvements of up to £150m. Officials expect this to rise to £500m a year by 2006.