21 July 2005 | Rebecca Ellinor
The Office of Government Commerce must raise the profile of its Gateway project reviews and appoint more assessors if it is to improve Whitehall's record on IT projects, according to MPs.
The reviews are designed to check budgetary and deadline adherence at vital stages of large government projects.
However, a report this month from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee found a third of 254 IT projects rated as "high-risk" by their managers owing to their complexity, were not checked according to the six-step Gateway procedure.
Edward Leigh MP, who chairs the committee, said of all the OGC's initiatives, Gateway reviews have the greatest potential to improve IT procurement.
But, he added: "It concerns me that, despite being mandatory, many large IT projects do not go through all the stages."
Ken Cole, CIPS IT committee chairman, said the problem was three-fold: "There's difficulty getting reviews resourced, not enough people know about them, and the OGC lacks executive authority."
MPs and trade unions have called for the reviews to be made public, but the OGC believes their confidentiality promotes an "honest exchange between the project and review teams".
Peter Smith, director of consultancy Procurement Excellence and an adviser to the OGC, added: "The public and politicians can have the reviews relatively secret and effective, or public and ineffective."