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Report shows problems for transformation and ICT projects



Infrastructure Projects Authority highlights number of programmes needing significant work to ensure successful delivery

A significant number of central government transformation and ICT projects are hitting significant problems, according to the newly published Infrastructure Projects Authority’s (IPA) annual report.

Its round-up of initiatives under the Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP), which details how they were progressing as of September 2017, shows that 13 of 41 transformation projects and seven of 29 for ICT were rated amber/red, denoting that successful delivery is in doubt.

None had been given the red rating that indicates the project is unachievable, but 24 for transformation and 14 for ICT were no better than amber, showing that delivery appears feasible but significant issues exist. These require serious attention to present an overrun in costs and schedules.

Four for transformation and eight for ICT have an amber/green rating, for which the odds are in favour of success but they require constant attention to prevent risks developing into threats. None are rated as green, for which success appears highly likely.

The proportions of the different ratings are generally similar to those in last year’s report, for which there were more projects in both categories and a couple rated green in ICT.

A number or red ratings appear in the other two categories, for infrastructure and construction projects and military capability.

Emergency services problem

The project that has most clearly hit serious problems is the Home Office’s Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme, now given a red after amber in the past three years. (This is in the infrastructure category but relevant to digital developments). The department recently claimed significant progress with this, but Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has indicated it is unhappy with the outlook.

GOV.UK Verify has also been downgraded from amber/green to amber. In May the Government Digital Service acknowledged that central government departments are not taking up the online identity assurance service as quickly as expected, but is still aiming for the target of enrolling 25 million users by 2020.

The GMPP is a continually evolving portfolio of the government’s most complex and high risk projects and it regularly changes to reflect government policy priorities. The current portfolio includes 133 major projects with a whole life cost of £423 billion, spread across 16 government departments.

Overall, half of this year’s 26 completed projects received a green or amber green delivery confidence assessment (DCA) - the IPA’s rating of a project’s chance of success at a specific point in time. These are often improved and a project’s likelihood of delivery is increased by taking the right steps following reviews and managing challenges effectively.

IPA chief executive Tony Meggs said: “The collective size and scope of these projects is impressive. It takes years of hard work from the cadre of world class project delivery professionals in government to deliver projects of this scale and complexity.

“The current portfolio of government major projects remains a broad and ambitious one. It is vital that we continue to help create the right environment for their successful delivery.”

Image from iStock

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