Gateway reviews reveal serious warnings on government IT

A series of Gateway Reviews have been published, cataloguing serious warnings on the government’s largest IT programmes.

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A series of Gateway Reviews have been published, cataloguing serious warnings on the government’s largest IT programmes.

The reviews concern projects at the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health, and were issued around 2006.

Some of the projects received “red light” status, meaning action needed to be taken “immediately” before the project can safely proceed.

These include electronic booking systems in the £12.7 billion NHS National Programme for IT, where the Gateway Reviews recommended that “the project urgently undertakes an assessment of NHS capability in each [local NHS trust]” and determine which need support.

It also said the NHS needed to be sure there were no high risks in the scalability of applications.

For the troubled care records systems, the reviews said the first London rollouts needed to have assured the local trusts had the “readiness and capacity” to roll out the software. Early rollouts ended up being highly troubled.

In the Department for Work and Pensions, the project to improve police cross-force data sharing was given an amber light for several aspects, forcing action before further decisions are taken. These included the need for further resources and better benchmarking.

The controversial £4.8 billion identity cards programme was given several amber lights, recommending that the Identity and Passport Service be given clear responsibility for making the programme work, that there is clear budgeting, better risk management and better governance, and better collaborative procurement.

Attempts to create a shared service centre in the Home Office were shown an amber light, highlighting the need to improve communications. The actual business case needed to be strengthened “as soon as possible”, it said.

The reviews were published in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Computer Weekly, made in 2006. Following a lengthy legal struggle, the Information Commissioner in June this year ordered the government to publish the reviews.

The Home Office’s Science and Research department received some of the sternest warnings. In its attempts to draw up a framework for IT contracts, it was shown several red lights. The Gateway Reviews damningly said it needed to “formally identify its scope, objectives, stages and funding”, and identify the resources needed.

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