The Office of Government Commerce has teamed up with supplier organisation Intellect to launch a series of measures aimed at avoiding the public sector IT disasters of the past.
As part of the scheme, Intellect has developed an IT supplier Code of Best Practice, which establishes a clear set of standards that public sector organisations can expect from their suppliers. Other initiatives include partnering guidelines and Concept Viability; a new service from Intellect to assess technology risk in specific public sector IT projects.
The scheme’s impact will be judged in the level of success achieved by future government IT projects, according to OGC chief executive Peter Gershon.
"The ultimate test is about whether we improve our success rate," he said. "I think we might also measure it in terms of whether we reduce the gap between the number of times a client goes to the market and is surprised by the response they get - either because the bids come in too high…..or are not fully compliant in some way."
John Higgins, director general of Intellect said, "The payback comes ultimately in reduced cost of procurement, more successful procurement and more successful projects."
UK government has a chequered track record of implementing major IT projects. At the end of 2001, for example, the government’s Individual Learning Account programme collapsed spectacularly amid allegations of fraud and mismanagement.
In 1999, problems with the implementation of a new IT system at the Passport agency resulted in a backlog of 565,000 passports, delays of up to 50 days and queues outside passport offices.
The new code of practice launched by the OGC and Intellect contains Ten Commitments, which establish official standards of professionalism for suppliers. These cover areas such as risk management, skills, and programme management.