Information Commissioner orders IT Gateway review publication

The Information Commissioner’s Office has ordered the publication of Gateway reviews into several multi-billion pound government IT programmes in the next month.

The reviews – issued by the Office of Government Commerce, which monitors public sector procurement – are not normally published. They are frank assessments, often highlighting urgent changes that need to be made to projects.

The government has argued that their publication would mean the people interviewed for future reviews would hold back information. But the ICO has ruled that the “public interest in disclosure” outweighs keeping the information under wraps.

The order was issued earlier this month, and states that reviews issued in the last year about projects in the NHS, Department for Work and Pensions including the Child Support Agency, and the home office, must be published. Large IT programmes in these departments have come under tough scrutiny after they experienced difficulties.

Last week, Gateway reviews into the highly troubled £12.7 billion NHS National Programme for IT were published after a freedom of information request, revealing a catalogue of problems since the inception of the scheme. But they did not cover the last four years, and at least the last year will have to be published according to the new order.

Gateway reviews into the £4.7 billion identity cards programme were published in March, also detailing serious concerns.

A spokesperson at the Office of Government Commerce said it will comply with the Information Commissioner’s order, but declined to specify which day it will release each notice.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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