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NAO warns of chronic failure of major government projects

The National Audit Office has issued the stark warning that one third of major government projects due to be delivered by 2021 are on course to fail.

According to the NAO's progress report, 37 of the 106 projects scheduled during the aforementioned timeframe are "in doubt or unachievable if action is not taken to improve delivery."

The report goes on to say: "While in the last Parliament, the NAO reported on improvements in the way aspects of programmes in some departments were managed, we also reported regularly on project failures and on ongoing projects that were experiencing considerable difficulties."

The Register has previously highlighted the chronic failure of government IT projects by identifying 20 projects that were flagged as 'amber' or 'red' in the Major Projects Authority's annual report. The term 'amber' means that "major risks or issues are apparent in a number of key areas," while 'red' means "successful delivery of the project is unachievable."

The key issues mentioned by the NAO include poor early planning, a lack of clear accountability for leadership and, something which has been a hot topic in the technology industry for some time now, a lack of skills and capability. Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: "I acknowledge that a number of positive steps have been taken by the Authority and client departments.

"At the same time, I am concerned that a third of projects monitored by the Authority are red or amber-red and the overall picture of progress on project performance is opaque. More effort is needed if the success rate of project delivery is to improve."

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