Headlines: January 30th, 2001

Benchmarking is to be introduced for the larger central government IT projects in a further move to limit implementation disasters. All the larger projects will be subject to a performance measurement regime which will include benchmarking and use of the balanced scorecard.Measuring implementation performance is one of the issues being addressed by a joint Government IT industry group – the ‘Senior Forum’. Peter Gershon, Chief Executive of the Office for Government Commerce is the chair, and he works with John Higgins at the Computing Services and Software Association to find solutions to the joint systemic issues facing government and industry on government IT enabled projects. The Senior Forum has also set up working groups on: building open relationships, procurement process, people and skills and delivering business change.

The National Audit Office will brought in to provide expertise in the area of performance measurement to assist the Senior Forum in developing a framework to measure its success. The NAO will give advice particularly relating to the key tools in setting performance benchmarks. It will also bring additional expertise and experience to the Senior Forum working groups.

This involvement of the NAO in the work of government will add to the criticism that it is jeopardising its independence as the auditor of the functions of Government and weakening its role as Parliament’s watchdog. Last year the NAO advised the DfEE on the financial arrangements for Education Action Zones. It is argued that it can no longer carry out an objective audit when it has been actively involved in setting up processes and procedures.