Tag Archives: Gateway reviews

Australian Gateway Review key in revealing extent of Victoria Police IT project deficiencies

By David Bicknell

A report has found that the police in the state of Victoria in Australia lacked the capacity to deliver a major IT project and wasted millions of dollars on a failed system.

According to The Australian, the force had lost around $30 million as a result of the decision to abandon the replacement of its Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) system, said the report by an Australian QC, Jack Rush.

“The investigations of the inquiry into the LEAP replacement and two other IT projects at Victoria Police revealed a lack of project management methodology and discipline leading to systemic mismanagement,” the report said.

“The inquiry identified a culture within Victoria Police that cost overruns were acceptable but above all, there was a lack of any form of strategy to define the IT needs and requirements of Victoria Police for the future.”

Victoria Police admitted last year it had underestimated the cost of replacing its inefficient, ageing LEAP system by $100m, before it abandoned the replacement project. 

Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said he would adopt the report’s recommendation that the force seek external assistance through an advisory group and had already been consulting external experts.

“Victoria Police needs help in delivering these projects and I will certainly be reaching out both nationally and internationally to make sure that we get this right,” he said.

A key Gateway Review was instrumental in the ending of LEAP, as the report discusses:

“The PIMS preliminary business case was subject to a Gateway Review in late July 2011. The scrutiny of this review process appears to have been the cause of considerable reflection at senior levels of Victoria Police command. The Gateway Review indicated interviewees advised that the preliminary business case did not provide sufficient justification for additional funding to complete the replacement of LEAP; and varied greatly in their expectations and understanding of what outcomes the Policing Information Management System (PIMS) would provide and the technology necessary to achieve outcomes.

The Gateway Review observed “… that best practice and strategic assessment begins with a fundamental understanding of what the problem is that requires fixing and the strategic response that the organisation is looking for.” The review found that the PIMS project was deficient in these respects:

  • the strategic vision for Victoria Police as it related to the PIMS project;
  • current and preferred policing workflow;
  • business requirements based upon the operational needs of modern policing; and
  • information management plan

Rush Report

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Open Government? Up to a point Lord Copper

By Tony Collins

There is much we know about Universal Credit.

Ian Watmore, the permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, has told MPs that the project is built on agile methods: it is split into two-to-three-week drops of code. The coding is divided into customer types  – and there are several thousand different types of customer. The simplest cases are those who have lost their job and the complicated ones are people who are in and out of work.

For each customer type the whole IT solution is being developed and is then tested with benefits claimants. Following agile principles, the problems encountered during testing are understood and the software re-coded.

The plan is to go live  with selected customer types by October 2013  – and it’s probably right that nobody in government will guarantee the deadline will be met.

This all sounds impressive but there’s one big drawback:  officials are refusing to release the “starting gate” review on the Universal Credit project.

Every major project now has to undergo a starting gate review to check it’s feasible before money is committed. It’s a good idea – and all credit to the team led by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude for enforcing it.

But officials are doing their best to stop starting gate reviews being published, even under the FOI Act. Officialdom  has even ignored an MP’s request for the starting gate report on Universal Credit. That MP, Richard Bacon, a Conservative member of the Public Accounts Committee, will pursue the matter.

Why the secrecy? 

It is likely that the civil service doesn’t want to publish starting gate reports for the reasons they don’t want to publish Gateway reviews: they’d rather not be accountable for what they say. If the advice is wrong it can be known years later when those involved have moved on. But the civil service would prefer that assessments of projects are not published while the advice is contemporaneous.

Hence the Department of Health has published Gateway review reports that are several years old. More recent reviews are published in a form that’s so heavily redacted – edited – that they contain no useful information.

Without the publication Gateway reviews,  the media, MPs and the public have no independent information on the progress or otherwise of large IT-based projects and programmes, unless they are scrutinised by the National Audit Office which has only limited resources. Without the publication of starting gates there’s no independent information in the public domain on the feasibility of big public sector projects and programmes.

So much for open government.

Links:

What is a starting gate?

The DH documents that mock open government