Computer Weekly campaigns for openness in Govt IT projects

Computer Weekly magazine has launched a campaign urging greater openness and transparency in the development and management of government IT projects as a means of ending the litany of multi-million pound disasters.

Transparency is not a dirty word

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At a hearing of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, MPs from the three main parties gave their support to Computer Weekly’s Shaking Up Government IT campaign which aims to improve transparency and accountability on complex high-risk projects…

The ID card scheme and the NHS’s national IT programme are two examples that greatly concern this publication.

Computer Weekly has undertaken its duty to report IT disasters with the principal aim of seeing the lessons of past mistakes being avoided in future projects. It has been a profoundly frustrating experience to have chronicled so many failures where the same mistakes have been repeated, but no one has acknowledged responsibility.

Transparency and accountability are not dirty words. They should not be treated as factors that could intimidate civil servants into not expressing their concerns freely. So it is gratifying that Computer Weekly’s work has been cited in several parliamentary events in the past month: during a Commons debate on NHS IT and at the hearings of two select committees.

But such recognition of the principles Computer Weekly has espoused will prove pointless if they are not accepted as policy and implemented. Parliament has recognised the need for reliable information on high-risk projects from the departments. Indeed, MPs are demanding it as a matter of urgency. Whether they get it is up to government, which must show a genuine commitment to ending the shameful history of IT disasters.

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