How to fix government IT projects

Computer Weekly went out of its way in this weeks leader column to praise the out going Government’s CIO Ian Watmore suggesting “he is like a cool breeze entering a hot stuffy room”. They talk about his “plain speaking, lack of fear when taking sensible risks. More than that he is open about past mistakes, analyses them, and tries to apply what he has learnt from them”.

Computer Weekly expands on the Leader with a 2 page article saying that Watmore gave MP’s the most credible account of what is wrong with public sector IT, what needs to be done and how innovation can be stimulated.

So, what did Watmore suggest or say:

• he put the differences between the public and private sectors simply; “the government has too many initiatives”

• he suggested that Gateway Reviews should be published (something long advocated by Computer Weekly)

• departments are wasting money. How? By hiring consultants “to say things civil servants don’t want to say”

• the government are keeping alive failing projects too long when they could be stopped earlier and cheaply

• keep people in their roles for longer. He does realise, though, that few people will stay for 5 or 6 years – the duration of some projects. He did suggest a better way of grooming successors

• to stop projects from failing Watmore suggested having them run by experienced people who have made mistakes, and have recognised where these mistakes have been made

• he also suggested the government has had its fingers burnt by making policy announcements without understanding the problems of implementation

Computer Weekly suggests that Watmore will be missed within the civil service; “what will follow his departure is a void, one suspects.”

I and many others have commented many times about failed government projects and the ideas suggested from Watmore make sound common sense. I wonder how many private sector companies would also benefit from adopting or even studying some of his proposals.

The civil service loss looks likely to be the Football Association’s  gain. He is now their Chief Executive and is thinking of adopting Gateway Reviews for the organisation.

Many failed projects, few lessons learnt or adopted. Watmore’s words need careful study and action.

Read the article from Computer Weekly here

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2 Responses to How to fix government IT projects

  1. Pingback: The Work Breakdown Paradox - The Case for Vision Keepers to Prevent Project Failure - Preventing Project Failure

  2. Pingback: Learning from mistakes - the success of ex-Govt CIO Watmore | Keeping up to date

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