These are some of the main conclusions given in Document no. 3.2 (2005–2006) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of value realisation from IT projects in the National Insurance Service that was submitted to the Storting on 21 October 2005.
The objective of the investigation was to clarify the National Health Service’s work regarding realising the anticipated effective output from IT projects. The Office of the Auditor General has reviewed four IT projects of which the National Insurance Administration had major expectations. Among other elements, the way the National Insurance Service plans, monitors and documents the anticipated effective output from IT projects has been investigated.
The investigation shows that there are major weaknesses in the practice of management by objectives and results in the IT area in the National Insurance Service. IT projects in the National Insurance Service had ambitious but somewhat unrealistic goals pertaining to the savings that were to be produced. Considerable downward adjustments were made over time to the estimates of anticipated gains, although this took place long after the projects had been initiated. Clear and realistic goals are a prerequisite for an acceptable decision-making base and good planning. The National Insurance Administration in general reports positive goal achievement regarding IT investments in the annual reports to the ministry without providing documentation to show the basis on which the reporting has been compiled.
The Office of the Auditor General has raised questions as to whether the National Insurance Administration has done enough to ensure that the effective output of IT projects will be attained as intended. The National Insurance Administration does not draw up plans for achieving the desired result, and the responsibility for realising effective output is to a large extent left to external national insurance offices.
The investigation shows deficiencies in the risk management, communication and follow-up of IT projects in the National Insurance Service. For example, in connection with the introduction of a new IT solution, the technical aids centres called for more guidance and better preparatory work from the National Insurance Administration to enable them to put the system to use.
The response from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs states that the investigation points to many important and relevant factors that the ministry will pursue with great care and to which it will pay considerable attention in the coming years. The ministry’s view is that the investigation will play an extremely important role in the efforts of the National Insurance Service and the ministry to make improvements in this area.
The Ministry agrees that risk management, good communication and close follow-up will be essential in the next few years. Moreover, the ministry emphasises that all IT projects must have realistic goals, that goal achievement must be documented, and that the results must be reported to the ministry. The ministry states that follow-up to the Office of the Auditor General’s report has already been initiated.
The provision concerning delayed public access to documents that are compiled by or sent to the Office of the Auditor General in connection with the Document no. 3:3 series (2005–2006) has been repealed, cf. Section 28, paragraph 2 of the Auditor General Act.