Tax credits fiasco leads to IT rethink

Link: Revenue recruits 500 ‘tax credits’ staff

In future, IT projects will not pass the Gateway Review process unless they include fallback plans in the event of major problems.

Gateway reviews are used to monitor projects at key stages to guard against failure, and are overseen by The Office of Government Commerce (OGC).

Speaking to the House of Commons’ Work and Pensions Select Committee, OGC chief executive Sir Peter Gershon said: ‘We have just revised and re-launched Gateway guidelines, requiring a more rigorous inclusion of proven fallback arrangement.’

An OGC spokesman said it had always intended to update the guidelines but recent problems with the Inland Revenue’s Tax Credit system had highlighted the need for change.

The Tax Credits system, run by EDS, launched in April 2002. But problems with the system resulted in big backlogs of applications and it is not expected to be fully back on track until March 2005.

The project missed the first three reviews – called Gateway zero, one and two – that cover essentials such as business justification and procurement strategy.

‘The refresh was underway before the Tax Credit system went live. We wanted more rigorous testing and fallback plans, and the Revenue’s problems showed we were on the right lines,’ the spokesman said.

The Work and Pensions Committee is currently reviewing how it can ensure successful IT projects at the Child Support Agency.

Last year’s roll out of a £300m system, developed to support a new formula to calculate maintenance payments, suffered an 11-month delay.

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