Most OECD Member countries have experienced and continue to experience problems with managing large IT investments. Many large-scale projects are implemented successfully, but most officials are able to mention two or three high profile scandals in their country at any given point of time.
Management problems with large IT projects lead to substantial direct and indirect costs, to discouraged staff and, occasionally, to a loss of public confidence in public sector management. Furthermore, inability to manage these types of projects implies that the significant moves towards e-government undertaken in many OECD Member countries may lead to large-scale public sector disgrace instead of enhanced effectiveness, efficiency and better governance arrangements.
The OECD Public Management Service carried out a project in 2001 aimed at creating a better understanding of what it takes for governments to succeed in their management of major public IT projects, and what lessons can be learned from past failures.
For more on this work, see:
OECD Public Management Policy Brief No. 8: "The Hidden Threat to E-Government: Avoiding Large Government IT Failures"
Representatives from 17 countries met in Paris on 26-27 October 2000 to exchange experiences to decide on what work the OECD could do to help to strengthen the management of large IT-enabled projects in the public sector. Below are selected presentations delivered at the meeting.