Successful IT:Modernising Government in Action

Cabinet Office
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  • 1. The public sector is undergoing radical change. In the Modernising Government White Paper the Government set itself ambitious goals for transforming public services, and the Civil Service is being reformed to meet these challenges. Improvement in the public sector will require effective use of information technology (IT). The first ever e-government Strategy, published in April 2000, sets out how IT will change the way the public sector works.
  • 2. In the past, Government IT projects have too often missed delivery dates, run over budget or failed to fulfil requirements. This review was set up to improve the way Government handles IT projects.
  • 3. Our most important message is that thinking in terms of ‘IT projects’ is itself a primary source of problems. Delivering IT is only ever part of the implementation of new, more effective, ways of working. The IT has to fit closely, for example, with the demands of the public and the new working practices needed to produce the desired changes. Achieving this requires a clear vision of the context in which IT is being implemented.
A change of approach is needed. Rather than think of IT projects, the public sector needs to think in terms of projects to change the way Government works, of which new IT is an important part. Our recommendations aim to achieve this change.
  • 4. In addition to changing its overall approach, the public sector needs to do much to improve the delivery of the projects themselves and we are also putting forward measures to address this.
  • 5. There is no single, simple solution to the problems we have seen. Our report is based on evidence from extensive research undertaken in the UK public and private sectors and abroad, which shows that there are a great many reasons why failures occur. These cannot be addressed by one or two catch-all measures and, accordingly, we have made many recommendations.
The overall aim of our work has been to make recommendations that will raise the standards of all our projects to the level of the best, and provide mechanisms to underpin the process of improvement.
  • 6. In February 2000, five recommendations from the review were released early and action has already begun on putting them into practice. These original recommendations have been incorporated into Recommendations 4, 21, 23, 28 and 30 of this report.