High-level supporters win victory for campaign

Proposals to boost openness and accountability on government IT projects, as put forward by Computer Weekly, have won the support...

Proposals to boost openness and accountability on government IT projects, as put forward by Computer Weekly, have won the support of senior figures in the IT industry and MPs from all parties.

However, there had been no clearly positive response from the government until the debate in the House of Commons on 29 June, when Treasury minister Ruth Kelly recognised the need to put an end to IT project failures.

Earlier this year Computer Weekly put forward a proposal to tackle IT failures: the passing of new legislation that draws on the strengths of the US government's Clinger-Cohen Act.

It would require departments to report contemporaneously to Parliament on the progress of IT projects and disclose any deviations from standing orders. Computer Weekly also called for Gateway reviews - independent assessments of projects - to be published. MP Richard Bacon took up our call in last week's debate in the Commons.

Kelly said the government shares the concern that Bacon and other MPs have expressed about IT procurement.

"On the issue of a new statutory framework, I can tell [Bacon] I am committed to taking away this interesting proposal and looking into it further," she said. "He will understand that I cannot give an instant answer, but I commit myself to writing to him about his interesting suggestion.

"I hope that illustrates that we are committed to learning from experience. We are open to new ideas about how to take this forward."

Kelly rejected the proposal that Gateway reviews be published, but in response Edward Leigh, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, indicated that he would not let the subject drop.

"We will have to return to the issue of Gateway reviews. We may be able to debate it further in our committee," he said.

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