21 August 2003 | Robin Parker
Government technology advisers have raised questions about the enforcement of official procurement review processes for major projects.
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (Post) says there is some uncertainty about whether the Office of Government Commerce's "Gateway" processes are mandatory.
The independent six-stage procedure was introduced two years ago by the OGC to review projects at crucial stages before they advance, using a traffic light-style system of approval.
The report said political pressures sometimes override Gateway recommendations.
"Projects may not be cancelled if they are of high political priority, even if given several red lights," Post said in the Government IT Projects study.
The report came amid press criticism of the Inland Revenue for bypassing the first three stages of the process for its tax credits IT system.
Both the Inland Revenue and the OGC denied any wrongdoing by starting the project at gateway four.
A spokesman for the revenue said the project did not have to start under the Gateway process because it did not meet the appropriate criteria.
"Some way into the project, we approached the OGC to look at what we had done," he said.
"It said it was an exemplar of good programme management, and then invited us to join at stage four."