The Cabinet Office has ditched plans to publish regular 'gateway' reports on the progress of major public sector IT projects.
The decision, according to reports, follows complaints from senior civil servants, whose compliance Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude needs to implement the Civil Service Reform Plan, published in June.
Gateway reviews are independent reports on medium and high-risk projects –projects that require approval from the Treasury – at important stages of their lifecycle. Currently, the reviews are kept secret and distribution limited to the project's most senior responsible 'owner' and the Cabinet Office's Major Projects Authority, which was launched in March 2011.
Maude had pledged to publish the reports as a means of exercising more control over projects. By publicly naming and shaming failing projects, the hope was that problems would be dealt with before they consumed excessive resources.
The U-turn represents a broken promise issued by Maude when in opposition, as well as a reversal of the Cabinet Office's Structural Reform Plan, which promised to publish the Gateway reviews from December 2011.
However, Maude has backed down in the face of complaints from civil servants, who are concerned that being linked with too many IT failures will ruin their careers.
Even as late as May 2012, publication was still on the agenda, with Sir Robert Kerslake, head of the Home Civil Service, telling a parliamentary committee: "...We are looking at this specific issue as part of the Civil Service Reform Plan... I cannot say exactly what will be in the plan... but it is due in June and my expectation is that I am very sympathetic to publication of the RAG [red, amber and green] ratings."
Even this represented a retreat from earlier promises to publish regular reports, which was watered down to annual reports, and which has now been dropped entirely to protect civil servants.