Post’s job is to provide parliament with objective analysis of relevant science and technology issues.
The Government IT Projects report published this week outlined the reasons behind failures such as the tax credits system, and the high-profile collapse of the Magistrates’ Courts’ Libra system. It also looked at what measures have been put in place to avoid repeating the same mistakes, and how effective they are.
The Inland Revenue’s failure to follow the official monitoring process overseen by Whitehall buying arm the Office of Government Commerce was symptomatic of a wider problem identified in the report.
‘The government has introduced a number of initiatives aimed at increasing the success rate of IT projects,’ it said.
‘However, it is too soon to say how effective these will be and it remains difficult to ensure guidance is followed by all departments and lessons learned from previous project failures.’
Post board member Professor Jim Norton says the government is still not putting enough effort into the people side of technology projects.
He said half the budget for a ‘business change’ project should go on issues such as training, explaining why the project is necessary, and budgeting for a fall in productivity while staff become used to the new system.
‘The government is only paying lip service to the human dimension. It’s getting better at the mechanics of running projects in terms of the IT, but not in terms of the people who use the IT,’ said Norton.
‘The interface between people and IT is often the problem, but the technology will be blamed.’
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