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Departmental IT

Volume 457: debated on Wednesday 7 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanisms his Department has in place to ensure that new large-scale computer systems (a) meet performance targets and (b) do not exceed the budgets allocated to them. (105798)

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) adopts a number of measures to ensure that its new large-scale computer systems meet performance targets and do not exceed allocated budgets.

Routinely, DfES projects that are enabled by information and communications technology (ICT) adopt the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) PRINCE2 project management methodology. PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments Version 2) is an ICT-enabled project management standard used extensively by UK Government Departments and widely recognised and used in other sectors. It provides a flexible and adaptable project management framework that aims to ensure that system delivery risks are identified and managed appropriately, and that objectives and benefits are achieved within budget, within time and to the required quality and performance standards.

Furthermore, within DfES, ICT projects are routinely subjected to OGC Gateway™ Reviews. The Gateway process examines a project at critical stages in its lifecycle to provide assurance that it can progress successfully to the next stage. The process is based on techniques that aim to achieve more effective delivery of benefits and more predictable costs and outcomes. More information on PRINCE2 and Gateway can be found on the OGC website

To complement the methodology and process, DfES and its ICT system development partners adopt a variety of tools and methods to ensure new IT system performance targets are met which include benchmarking, performance testing, iterative development techniques and user acceptance testing.

In addition, DfES has dedicated in-house teams which provide an assurance and support role for departmental ICT-enabled projects.