Gateway reviews are not addressing project failure

Three years of effort by the Office of Government Commerce has done little to alter the basic weaknesses of major public sector...

Three years of effort by the Office of Government Commerce has done little to alter the basic weaknesses of major public sector IT projects, according to the National Audit Office.

In a report published last week, the NAO analysed the work of the OGC and its Gateway review process, which aims to mitigate the risks of major IT project failure.

It examined 440 Gateway reviews on 254 IT-enabled projects and found that many projects had improved as a result of the OGC's intervention, but said, "The concerns raised in Gateway reviews have remained broadly the same since their introduction in 2001, and unless there is growing evidence that these weaknesses are being addressed, their recurrence will reduce confidence in the ability of the OGC and departments to bring about a step change in the performance of projects."

The NAO highlighted "intractable issues" around project management skills, communication with stakeholders and risk management.

"This evidence could suggest that the OGC has not been successful in achieving the widespread dissemination of best practice in these areas. Alternatively, however, it could demonstrate the challenge of applying this best practice to large and complex projects," the report said.

Project concerns stay the same

  • Issues identified in Gateway reviews that have remained broadly similar since the launch: 
  • Need for involvement of key stakeholders
  • Clearer identification of the roles and responsibilities of departments and suppliers in the governance of IT-enabled projects 
  • Improvement and development of business cases, particularly scope and content
  • Better risk management
  • Improved skills and resources, including resource planning, succession planning and the quantity and quality of skilled staff. 

Source: Improving IT Procurement, NAO

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