UK.gov to hire IT project SWAT team

'Put the mouse down, and step away from the keyboard'

The government is to bring in a team of IT specialists to oversee big technology projects and prevent them from failing. Chief information officer Ian Watmore described the team as a "heavy hitter brigade" when he announced the scheme at a government CIO meeting last week.

The team will be managed by the e-government unit, but will be funded by individual departments as and when they call upon its services, according to Computer Weekly. The trade magazine reports that the team has yet to be selected, but that Watmore hopes to attract six to ten leading consultants.

As well as overseeing ongoing projects, the team will be involved at the planning stages, advising on the feasibility of particular ideas and programmes. Too often, problems emerge on projects that ought to have been picked up earlier on. As projects progress, these get more and more difficult to deal with.

Watmore acknowledged that the government has something of an image problem when it comes to large scale IT projects. "At best," he told CW, "we have a low public perception of our capability." But he added that public sector IT projects are "inherently more complicated...than the private sector" and "as challenging as anywhere on the planet".

This is because the UK is significantly larger than a big corporation's customer base, with its 60 million citizens. Yet it is not so large than projects are easily broken down regionally, something that happens in "countries significantly larger than [the UK]", Watmore said. ®

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