An increasing number of central government ICT projects have attracted warnings from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) – despite the number subject to review declining over the past year.
The figure has emerged from the organisation’s new annual report on its delivery confidence assessments (DCAs), which says 10 projects have been given red or amber/red ratings over the past year, while the total number in the category has gone down from 29 to 27.
This reverses the trend of a steady improvement since the first report was published in 2015. Last year there were no reds and seven amber/reds.
Of the ICT projects covered one – for the implementation of GOV.UK Verify – was given a red rating, while nine received amber/red, 12 were amber, three amber/green and two green.
Verify’s rating comes as little surprise given the repeated criticisms of the programme – including from Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee – and the decision of the Cabinet Office to make the private sector identity providers responsible for increasing take-up.
The report’s assessment of the project says only that a new senior responsible owner has been appointed and that various actions are being taken in response to the IPA’s DCA.
Among those receiving amber/red ratings are Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s 5G Testbeds and Trials programme, which has been delayed by issues with equipment availability and complexities in its set-up.
HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Customs Declaration Service also comes in for criticism, reflecting concerns that its testing activities took longer than expected and there was a need for clearer accountabilities.
The report has sparked on an attack on the Government’s record on ICT projects from Jo Platt MP, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, who said: “ICT development across government is in a sorry state and this report further confirms it.
“It is simply not acceptable that a significant number of high profile ICT projects are now much less likely to deliver their objectives to time and cost, but the confirmation that Verify has now been designated unachievable will not surprise anyone who has been following its chaotic development.”
She added: “The Government should immediately commit to conducting a comprehensive review of all major ICT systems, both current and in development, and the risks posed by their failure”.
Amidst the criticisms, some projects emerge as successful in the report, classed either as delivered or on course for delivery. These include the Home Office’s Communications Capabilities Development Programme, the Department for Work and Pensions’ Fraud, Error and Debt Programme, and the NHS e-Referral Service.
The latter prompted the IPA to comment that the review team were complimentary about the achievement of full use between GPs and hospitals, and described it as an “exemplar in major programme delivery”.
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