The UK government today announced rigorous measures to drive up performance of major public sector IT projects following an embarrassing string of disasters and delays.
Cabinet Office minister Ian McCartney said that IT suppliers would be carefully scrutinised both before and during projects. All high risk projects would also be regularly reviewed as they progress.
The announcement comes only weeks after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) compiled a report highlighting a series of IT delays and disasters.
McCartney said the measures were part of a comprehensive review of IT projects across government. Other measures include giving ministers a stronger role in overseeing projects, and sharing knowlege about IT projects across departments.
"We have already introduced with the Treasury a programme of reviews involving independent experts for major projects before they go ahead. Today's measures will include practical and effective controls over our IT projects," he said.
In addition, the government is setting up the new Office of Government Commerce to ensure suppliers are managed in a strategic way across the public sector. IT suppliers will be the first priority for this work.
MacCartney added: "We have already looked at a wide range of projects across government, as well as several private sector companies and governments overseas. These recommendations have the teeth to make a real difference, but they are only a first step. We will be bringing forward more measures in the coming months."
"This government will not tolerate failure and will not repeat the mistakes of the past," he said.
The PAC report, published in January, found more than 25 cases from the last decade where the implementation of IT systems resulted in "delay, confusion and inconvenience to the citizen and, in many cases, poor value to the tax payer."
Problems highlighted in the report included the queues for UK passports experienced last summer, following the installation of a new computer system at the Passport Agency provided by Siemens Business Services under the government's private finance initiative.
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