Government IT projects have a poor track record because of a reckless and "gung-ho" approach that leads to insufficient testing and over-complex design, according to a new report.
The Where next for transformational government? report by The Work Foundation (formerly the Industrial Society) claims too many government IT projects fail to address the risks involved and ignore the advice of staff who will use the systems.
Alexandra Jones, associate director at The Work Foundation and co-author of the report, said public sector IT managers have a "reckless streak" and are too easily blinded by the potential of the technology.
She said in the report: "Government should not be about cutting-edge innovation - it should be about serving citizens well and efficiently. If someone gets their benefit late due to computer failure, it matters in a way that it simply doesn't when private sector ICT projects fail. The private sector can afford the luxuries of innovating; in the public sector, ICT needs to work."
Recommendations in the report include trialling large-scale IT projects on a smaller scale before being more widely rolled out; keeping projects simple rather than trying to reinvent the wheel; avoiding constant revisions to projects, which can lead to scope creep; and better managing the process change behind computerisation.
The report was sponsored by Adobe and is based on the views of 1,000 members of the public, 500 frontline staff and 25 senior managers in the public sector.
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