Audit Scotland: 3 key Public Sector ICT programmes significantly flawed

Audit Scotland has found significant weaknesses in the management of three public sector information and communication technology (ICT) programmes costing a combined £133 million so far.

Managing ICT contracts: An audit of three public sector programmes, published on 30 August 2012 reports on the management of important ICT programmes that were delayed, cancelled or overran on costs.

The programmes were the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (£10 million budget), Disclosure Scotland (£31 million budget), and Registers of Scotland (project originally valued at £66 million but £112 million has been spent so far).

The report says many of the problems stemmed from a lack of specialised information technology skills and experience. But there were also weaknesses in basic project management and control, and the ‘Gateway’ system that the Scottish Government uses to provide assurance on the management of projects was not always effective.

Audit Scotland says the Scottish Government should consider the benefits that could be achieved by providing a central resource of specialised ICT expertise and advice for public bodies undertaking such programmes. The government also needs to comprehensively review how it can best support and oversee public bodies undertaking significant ICT programmes.

Auditor General for Scotland Caroline Gardner said: “Information and communication technology is an important way of helping public bodies work more efficiently and deliver better and more joined-up services. Scotland’s public bodies invest heavily in ICT, spending about £740 million a year, and there are several major programmes underway across the public sector.

“We examined three programmes – which have cost more than £130m in total so far – that were delayed or cancelled in order to learn lessons for other public sector projects. We found significant weaknesses in how they were planned, managed and overseen. Some of this arose from a lack of specialist skills, but there were also flaws in areas of basic project management that apply to capital works of all types. The Scottish Government needs to address these weaknesses and strengthen its strategic oversight of ICT investment to ensure the public sector delivers programmes that improve public services and provide value for money.”

The full tex of the report is here:

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