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This levelling will ensure appropriate assurance is applied to the initiative, therefore avoiding over or under assuring. Robust discussion with the Accountable Officer surrounding these characteristics will assist in understanding the benefits of assuring the initiative as well as increase focus on areas of concern. Four assurance levels are defined. Each progressive assurance level supports an increasing level of assurance activity, scrutiny, and independence.
The table below provides a summary of how assurance can be applied for each level and more detail is provided in the summaries following. This assurance level requires minimal assurance however reviews will still be scheduled and assurance planning still required. Reviews can still be conducted from within the agency but must be external to the initiative to ensure an appropriate level of independence and objectivity is maintained.
For example, reviews may be performed by a PMO or suitable governing body. Involvement from senior management, independent from the business area, may also be required. This is the highest assurance level and requires external to government, independent providers of assurance services for critical initiatives. Assurance profiling takes place when a new initiative is identified or when significant change occurs; such as changes to scope, complexity or impact. There are 27 questions in the assurance profiling tool available on the QGCIO portal, for registered portal users.
The Accountable Officer will be required to sign off and formalise the resulting assurance level. You will need to keep a record of the results, including your reasoning and any additional evidence. Assurance planning will define the assurance reviews and related activities to be applied to assure the initiative. The assurance plan is to encompass the whole initiative and will also include the scheduling of health checks, etc.
A key advantage of forward planning is that review participants will be identified and assurance review activities scheduled to allow the assurance reviews to be implemented within a suitable time frame.
Developing the plan involves the identification of assurance activities for the allocated assurance level. Some elements to consider as part of planning are:.
What is program & project assurance?
While an assurance plan will encompass the lifecycle of the initiative, each individual review may have its own plan developed and scheduled as part of the broader assurance plan. Assurance plan templates are available to assist with assurance planning and should be tailored to meet the individual review requirements of the initiative. Low risk, short term initiatives may decide to include assurance planning activities in their Project Plan or equivalent documentation.
The assurance review examines programs and projects at key decision points and aims to provide timely advice to the Accountable Officer. An assurance review will provide a strategic view of the initiative and aims to identify risks and issues that may hinder the successful delivery of the initiative, as well as acknowledging existing good governance and practice. It is important to note that an assurance review is not an audit or a substitute for a governance framework; the aim of an assurance review is to help initiatives succeed. Ultimately the assurance review aims to increase confidence that investment is well spent, aligns with strategic objectives and that benefits are realised.
Gated assurance reviews take advantage of experience and expertise independent of the initiative. The intent of the assurance gates is to review progress of the initiative against the evidence criteria relevant to each gate. Reviews assist in building confidence for Accountable Officers that decisions are calculated, well informed and carefully considered. Gates are relevant to projects. Gates are conducted during the life of the project; Gate 5 is repeated after project completion during benefits realisation.
During a review an initiative will require evidence of good governance, planning, risk and issue management.
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Reviewers will need to have confidential conversations with initiative stakeholders and will require access to information. Gate 0 is repeated throughout the life cycle of a program, with typical reviews occurring after program identification and at the end of each tranche. However, it is also common for Gate 0 reviews to occur multiple times during a tranche, before tranche or throughout delivery. Gate 0 is an outcome focussed review that investigates the direction and planned outcomes of the program, together with the progress of its projects.
The Gate 1 review is performed at the completion of the outline business case. This review confirms the strategic importance of the initiative and its links to government, agency policy and program. The review confirms that the outline business case is robust. The Gate 2 review is generally performed after a preferred delivery option is identified.
It will assess the viability, potential for success, value for money and proposed approach. This review confirms the business case once the project is fully defined, confirms the objectives and desired outputs remain aligned and ensures the procurement approach is robust, appropriate and approved. The Gate 3 review is performed prior to contract sign-off or project delivery commencement. This review checks that the required statutory and procedural requirements were followed and that the recommended contract decision is likely to deliver the specified outcomes on time, within budget and provide value for money.
This review also confirms the benefits realisation plan. The Gate 4 review occurs once the asset or service is ready for delivery.
Project Reviews, Assurance and Governance | Emerald Insight
This review checks that system testing has been completed to user satisfaction and that the business is ready to take over operation. This review also confirms the contract is complete and documented, the contract management arrangements are in place and current and the business case remains valid.
The Gate 5 review examines in detail aspects such as arrangements for contract management, improvements in value for money and performance incentives against a baseline. This review can be repeated at regular intervals during the lifetime of the new service.
The diagram below illustrates where gated assurance reviews occur within the lifecycle of programs and projects. Gated assurance review interviews and report submission should occur within a one-week timeframe. Of course, additional time before and after the review is required for planning, documentation review and closure activities. Reviews examine an initiative at a point in time, therefore it is important that interviews occur over a short period of time so the review and resultant report can provide a current, focused assessment.
The number of review team members can vary; influenced by factors such as context of initiative, gate, specialist skills, etc.
The table below provides a guide to the number of expected reviewers. An assurance report will provide a concise, evidence-based snapshot of an initiative at the time of the review. The intent of a report is to help initiatives. It is important to note an assurance report does not replace the need to conduct risk identification, analysis, review or audit activities.
A report will not ensure initiative success nor should it stop the initiative. Article Information Volume: 40 issue: 2, page s : Article first published online: June 1, ; Issue published: June 1, Sign Out. Email required Password required Remember me Forgotten your password? Need to activate? Institutional Access does not have access to this content. Open Athens. Purchase Content 24 hours online access to download content.
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