UK Liberty

Something to hide? Treasury officials order destruction of Gateway reports

Posted in accountability, freedom of information, ID Cards by ukliberty on June 4, 2007

Remember Gordon pledging more openness in government?  I thought he might at least start in his own back yard.  Clearly I thought wrong!

Computer Weekly:

Treasury officials are ordering the immediate destruction of “Gateway” internal reports into risky government IT schemes to prevent information on the projects being leaked.

Their action, a response to the Freedom of Information Act, comes even though the Treasury’s Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has lost two appeals to keep Gateway reports secret.

The Treasury is now appealing to the High Court.

Managed by the OGC, Gateway reviews are independent assessments of high and medium-risk IT-based and other projects at various stages in their lifecycle: projects such as the £5.3bn ID cards scheme and the NHS’s £12.4bn National Programme for IT.

The OGC paper on the Gateway review, seen by Computer Weekly, tells its teams, “You must securely dispose of the [final Gateway] report and all supporting documents immediately after delivery of the final report – which should be no later than seven days after the review.”

The OGC wants to cut the risk of leaks – only two people will have copies, the OGC and a department’s “senior responsible owner”.

Nobody else has any automatic right to see the reviews. So a department or agency’s internal audit committee, MPs, the department’s IT team, computer suppliers and potential end-users may be denied access to the final report.

The OGC is also assuring departments that confidentiality over Gateway reviews is “assured” – even though the High Court could rule that the reviews are published.

Civil servants who undertake Gateway reviews told Computer Weekly they thought it unnecessary to destroy the final reports. They said the documents usually contained important recommendations which may not be carried out properly if people in the department or agency do not know what they are.

One Gateway reviewer said the order to destroy the final reports was “odd and a little sinister”.

More on Tony Collins’ blog.


2 Responses

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  1. IanP said, on June 4, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Does anyone know what the legal status of these documents is?

    Would a civil servant to destroyed these documents be acting under the Civil Service code, or be undertaking a political act.?

    Are we seeing Party, Government and State merging into one entity?

  2. Gordon Brown on liberty « UK Liberty said, on October 30, 2007 at 10:58 am

    […] or supportive), are we going to stop fighting freedom of information requests, and are we going to stop destroying Gateway reports? • Respecting privacy in the home, new rights against arbitrary […]

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