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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 July, 2005, 04:03 GMT 05:03 UK
MPs worried on IT scheme checks
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Government IT projects too often run over budget, say MPs
Checks designed to prevent costly failures in government IT projects are often skipped by Whitehall departments, says a committee of MPs.

The Commons public accounts committee says special reviews are compulsory for high and medium risk projects.

But in nearly a third of the projects (30%), the first two phases are missed out by departments.

Committee chairman Edward Leigh said major IT projects too often became an "enormous waste of taxpayers' money".

Central government spends 2.3bn a year on information technology and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) works to help them being delivered better.

Crucial phases

Reporting about the OGC, Mr Leigh said: "Far too often, major IT-enabled projects in government departments are late, well over budget, or do not work at all."

Far too often, major IT-enabled projects in government departments are late, well over budget, or do not work at all
Edward Leigh MP

In 2000, the government introduced the Gateway reviews, which independently checked on IT projects at critical periods in their development.

The MPs highlight the number of projects which bypass the first stages of the review, "crucially entering the process after the business case has been prepared".

Mr Leigh said there might be a legitimate reason for the omissions but he argued the OGC should agree to any deviations from the normal progress.

The National Audit Office should become involved automatically when projects go ahead despite receiving two consecutive serious warnings.

The MPs' report says there is a strong case for publishing the reviews.

It says the reviews provide the chance to highlight risks early enough for senior managers to take recovery action.

"There is evidence, however, that Gateway is still not taken seriously enough by departments, with the same issues and shortcomings repeatedly highlighted by reviews...," it adds.




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