Guidance on the Gateway Review Process - A Project Assurance Methodology for the Australian Government
Part 1: The Gateway Review Process - An Overview
- Application of Gateway
- Key Steps in a Gaateway
- Introduction of Gateway
- The Methodology
- Freedom of Information
- Participants in Gteway Review
- The Benefits of Gateway
Gateway applies to new projects undertaken by FMA agencies operating under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act), which satisfy certain financial and risk thresholds. The current financial thresholds are:
- $10 million and over for information technology (IT) projects; and
- $20 million and over for other procurement and infrastructure projects.
These thresholds will be reviewed at regular intervals and refer to the total value of a project, regardless of the timeframe taken to deliver the objectives.
Risk is assessed using the Gateway Assessment Tool (GAT). The GAT is explained in greater detail at Appendix A. It provides a standard set of high-level criteria and questions, which the agency answers in relation to a proposed project, to determine the level of project risk (high, medium or low). A subset of high risk projects have been defined by the Government as ‘Mission Critical', and as such, the Government has decided that additional governance requirements be applied to these projects, on the basis that:
- such projects are essential to the successful delivery of a major legislative requirement or a major policy initiative committed to by the Government; or
- project failure would have catastrophic implications for delivery of a key public service, national security or the internal operation of an agency.
Gateway is being phased in from the 2006 - 07 Budget, focusing initially on a representative cross-section of projects that satisfy the financial thresholds and are identified as high risk.
After the 2006 - 07 Budget, all projects over the financial thresholds must complete the GAT. Projects deemed to be high risk, after completion of the GAT and in consultation with the Gateway Unit, must undertake a Gate 1—Business Case Review prior to consideration by Government. Projects that are included in Gateway will proceed through subsequent Gates in the Gateway process during their lifecycles.
For the 2008 - 09 Budget and onward, those projects that satisfy the financial thresholds and are assessed as medium risk will also be subject to the same process as high risk projects.
Gateway is a project assurance methodology that involves short, intensive reviews at up to six critical stages of the project lifecycle. The reviews, undertaken by a team of experienced peer reviewers who are not associated with the project, are designed to:
- assess the project against its specified objectives at a particular stage in the project's lifecycle;
- provide early identification of areas that may require corrective action; and
- provide validation that a project is ready to progress successfully to the next stage.
There are six different reviews that occur at critical stages (or Gates or decision points) of a project's lifecycle. These are:
|Critical Stage or Gate||Type of Review|
|Gate 0||Business Need|
|Gate 1||Business Case|
|Gate 2||Procurement Strategy|
|Gate 3||Investment Decision|
|Gate 4||Readiness for Service|
|Gate 5||Benefits Realisation|
Appendix B provides a summary of the purpose of each Gateway review, and the key areas to be examined. These are also discussed in detail in Financial Management Reference No.7 Gateway Review Process—A Handbook for Conducting Gateway Reviews, which is provided to reviewers during the Gateway Reviewer training. The Handbook can also be accessed from the Gateway Unit.
A Gate 0 Review may occur prior to the commencement of a programme or project, or during later stages of the project or programme, if required. For most projects though, the first review will be a Gate—1 Business case Review. Figure 1 outlines the relationship between a typical project's lifecycle and the reviews at each Gate.
Projects that are included in Gateway are subject to Gates 1 through 5.
The Gate 0 - Business Need review is a broad strategic review that may be undertaken before the start-up stage of a programme or project, to inform decision-making, or may be undertaken during project implementation, to confirm the alignment with the intended outcomes. It is envisaged that Gate 0 Reviews will not be commonly used and will only be undertaken when an agency specifically requests a review, and obtains the Gateway Unit's concurrence, or where the review is commissioned by the Government. If Gate 0 Reviews are deemed appropriate for a project, they can be repeated during the life of particularly complex projects.
Following the completion of a Gateway review, subsequent Gateway reviews for projects will commence when the Sponsoring Agency informs the Gateway Unit of its intention to proceed to the next phase in the project lifecycle. Protocols around these notifications will be established between the Sponsoring Agency and the Gateway Unit at the Assessment Meeting.
Figure 1: Gateway and the Project Lifecycle
Gateway is not an audit, a detailed technical review or an inquiry. The reviews identify and focus on issues that are most important to the project, so that a Project Team's effort is directed to those aspects that will help make the project successful. The Gateway review findings and recommendations are provided directly to the Sponsoring Agency at the conclusion of the review. It is the responsibility of the Sponsoring Agency, not the Gateway Unit, to determine what action should be taken to address recommendations.
Gateway reports provided to Sponsoring Agencies are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). The Sponsoring Agency has responsibility for dealing with FOI requests for Gateway reports. Other information held by Sponsoring Agencies, or by the Gateway Unit, related to a Gateway review may also be subject to the FOI Act.
Gateway involves the participation of the:
- Sponsoring Agency (including the Senior Responsible Official, Project Manager and Project Team);
- Gateway Unit;
- Gateway Review Team; and
- Other project stakeholders.
A Gateway Review Team will usually consist of a Review Team Leader and up to three Review Team Members. All reviewers must be accredited through the Gateway Unit's accreditation process. The Gateway Unit consults with the Sponsoring Agency to determine the optimal composition of the Gateway Review Team for each Gateway review.
At each Gate, a Gateway review consists of four elements requiring the Sponsoring Agency's participation.
- An Assessment Meeting between the Gateway Unit and the Senior Responsible Official of the project, to clarify the characteristics of the project, discuss the timing and logistics of the review and determine the skills requirements for potential reviewers. This meeting will generally take one hour.
- A Planning Meeting between the assigned Gateway Review Team and the significant project personnel (including the Senior Responsible Official and the Project Manager) to clarify the project's characteristics and the requirements for the review. This meeting will generally take no more than half a day.
- The Onsite Review Activity, which involves examination of critical documentation and interviews with key Project Team members and other project stakeholders on the Sponsoring Agency's premises. Interviews will be carefully planned and scheduled to minimise the disruption to interviewees. The Onsite Review Activity typically takes the Gateway Review Team four to five working days to complete. The Review Team Leader will brief the Senior Responsible Official on a daily basis regarding any findings to date. This briefing typically takes less than half an hour.
- The Gateway Review Report is provided to the Senior Responsible Official on the last day of the Onsite Review Activity, following a briefing by the Gateway Review Team on the review's conclusions and recommendations. This briefing generally takes no more than an hour to complete. The report highlights where corrective action may be required at that particular point in time.
Figure 2 provides an overview of a typical Gateway review (with an indicative five- day timeline for the Onsite Review Activity), including the suggested timeframe, the participants at each stage and the key actions at each step in the process.
The process and resource requirements for each of the Gateway reviews are described in greater detail in Part 3 of this Guidance.
As previously noted, Gateway strengthens the oversight and governance of major projects and assists FMA agencies to deliver new projects in accordance with the stated objectives, on-time and on-budget. It achieves this by providing an arm's length assessment of a project at critical stages of the project's lifecycle.
The benefits of Gateway to FMA agencies can include:
- better alignment of service delivery with Government's desired outcomes and available funds;
- access to the knowledge of highly experienced peers;
- improved accuracy in planning;
- improved allocation of skills and resources;
- improved procurement and contract management processes;
- improved risk management;
- reduced time and cost overruns;
- increased supplier confidence;
- greater assurance that the project can progress to the next stage of development or implementation;
- dissemination of better practice techniques across the public sector, leading to enhanced project management awareness and skills; and
- enhanced agency awareness, responsibility and accountability through open, targeted and honest communication.
The Gateway Unit will periodically publish a report that is a composite of lessons learnt from a variety of Gateway reviews. These reports will incorporate confidentiality principles, with lessons learnt not attributable to any particular project. The lessons learnt reports will be available on the Gateway website.
Figure 2: Overview of the Gateway Review Process Timeline
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