Thursday, January 15, 2009

Procurement and Risk

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published some (mild) criticism of the Defence Information Infrastructure project, contracted to EDS by the UK Ministry of Defence [Report (pdf) via The Register].

"The Ministry ... says that there's no need to worry about the risk budget being two-thirds gone at this point as it is normal for emergencies to appear early rather than late in a project."

But that of course depends how risk is managed. One possible approach is to try and eliminate or reduce uncertainty early in a project, before expensive commitments are made. However, the PAC has identified some outstanding risks.

  • The longer it takes to complete the implementation of DII, the greater the risk that one or more of the Department’s legacy systems will fail.
  • The Department did not conduct a pilot before commencing full implementation, even though the DII Programme was complex and the timetable ambitious.
The continued presence of this kind of risk in the programme suggests that "emergencies appear early" looks like an optimistic hope rather than a management achievement.

Note: Last summer, the DII received qualified praise from the National Audit Office [The Register, July 2008]. The NAO has itself been subject to criticism for its cosy relationship with large contractors such as EDS, especially under its former comptroller Sir John Bourn [Private Eye, Guardian].

No comments: