Examination of Witnesses (Questions 300
WEDNESDAY 23 JANUARY 2002
300. You said there should be more rigorous
success criteria. That is a resounding phrase but it really says,
"We ought to know what we are doing".
(Mr Sykes) Yes, but understanding how you are going
to measure when you have achieved the benefits that come out of
the project I think is something which is not necessarily being
done as well as it should have been in the past, but on my particular
project I know exactly what success will look like and what I
have to do to make sure that I capture the benefits.
301. Can you give us an estimate of the benefits
that have been identified in money terms?
(Mr Sykes) From the Gateway review process?
302. From these ten projects you are referring
(Mr Sykes) I cannot give you an answer on that. I
think where we are on these Gateway reviews at the moment is that
we are generally in the early stages of the project, and what
we are able to do is say that, because of the Gateway review process,
the predictability of outcome, ie that the projects are on time,
deliver their benefits and are within budget, is very much enhanced.
303. That is very general. Are you not in a
position at some point to estimate how much that enhancement is?
(Mr Sykes) I think it would have to be done empirically
against some statistics like 50 per cent of projects used to be
X per cent over budget and now only 10 per cent of projects are
X per cent over budget, therefore the cost avoidance that we have
got from Gateway process is Y.
304. Can you answer the question in those terms?
(Mr Sykes) At the moment no, because not all of these
projects have been through the whole Gateway cycle. The Gateway
cycle has five gateways and the most advanced of these projects
is at Gateway 3 where we have just committed to signing the contract.
305. Do you expect to evaluate them in these
(Mr Sykes) Absolutely.
306. When will that be?
(Mr Sykes) Probably the first of these projects in
about 18 months' time.
307. Can we turn to e-commerce? You say that
the OGC needs to ensure that the e-commerce agenda takes on board
the needs of the departments and you refer to a number of earlier
central initiatives, having led to abortive working departments.
Which initiatives are you thinking of other than the electronic
(Mr Sykes) The electronic shopping mall was a pre
308. What other initiatives have got nowhere?
(Mr Sykes) That is the issue to which we are referring.
309. Do you think the OGC are taking adequate
notice of the needs of different departments and taking forward
the e-commerce agenda?
(Mr Sykes) They are now, yes.
310. What was going on before, then? "Now"
is a very weighted word.
(Mr Sykes) As I said at the start, historically, pre
OGC, the tendency was for things to be imposed from the centre"This
is good for you, you will do it. Here are some aspirational targets.
Go away and do it". The OGC process now is far more consultational
and, when the Gateway review process was first brought in, the
first OGC project to be put through the Gateway process was the
shopping mall, and the Gateway review process identified that
that shopping mall was premature and would not meet the need of
departments, and so the project was killed, so there was a cost
avoidance there. I do not know how much the quantum was for that.
311. Are you saying or implying that the OGC
have improved their performance?
(Mr Sykes) Yes.
312. So they were part of the problem to begin
with, were they?
(Mr Sykes) Pre OGC?
313. No, I am talking about the OGC, not pre
(Mr Sykes) The shopping mall was not an OGC project.
It pre-dated the OGC.
314. Are you saying that the OGC are the improvement
(Mr Sykes) Yes.
315.or are you saying that the OGC's
performance has improved in the period while they have been in
(Mr Sykes) It is both.
316. What was wrong with the earlier part? Let
us just take the period while the OGC were in being. What was
the previous difficulty with them?
(Mr Sykes) With the OGC per se I do not think
we have said that we have difficulties with the OGC. The concept
of bringing this together as a unified body and Peter Gershon's
approach to inclusion of departments in the process is all positive.
The improvement aspect of that is that you cannot expect to change
the world overnight and we are seeing the continuous improvement
of what they provide.
317. I wonder if I might ask you, Mr Sykes,
in terms of this OGC target or estimate of 90 per cent of transactions
being carried out electronically and their submission that 50
per cent across government are being carried out electronically,
what is the score of your department?
(Mr Sykes) For the centre of DTLR it is 57/58 per
cent at the latest count.
318. When would you expect it to achieve the
90 per cent target?
(Mr Sykes) If I can preface this by saying the reason
we are not at the 90 per cent at the moment is that our e-procurement
project was dependent on the replacement of the Department's finance
and accounting system which is on-going and due to go live in
April and we have bought a package which is integral with the
finance and accounting systems so we do not have integration problems,
the finance package goes live on 1 April. We start to roll out
e-procurement round about July of this year and we hope to have
it out in the whole of the centre of the department by September.
We will therefore be capable in September of this year of carrying
out one hundred per cent of our procurement transactions electronically.
The issue of whether we will achieve 90 per cent will then be
an issue of whether our suppliers are up to speed and able to
trade from their side electronically.
319. That is very good news. What was the problem
with the Department's finance and accounting system?
(Mr Sykes) It was out of date, it did not meet the
need, it was not suitable for doing resource accounting and budgeting,
and it was part of a planned up-grade for the department, but
the existing accounting systems had no mechanisms, without building
very extensive interfaces, of doing electronic procurement.