£273m-worth of UK public sector IT projects axed

by Editor 10/22/2008 4:32:00 PM
Whitehall has binned £273m-worth public sector IT projects over the last five years. This was revealed in series of parliamentary written answers to shadow chief secretary to the treasury Philip Hammond.

The £273m figure included:

  • £149.4m of projects axed by the Department for Work and Pensions, including the Benefits Processing Replacement Programme (BPRP), run by IBM and PA Consulting and the retirement planner handled by Accenture and EDS
  • £26.2m spent by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on projects that have been cancelled, including the Catalyst electronic records system, the Customer Information Programme and the Phoenix system, designed to handle licences for protected species
  • £9.2m spent by the Department for Transport, including such projects as the DVLA’s Tracking Vehicles Through the Trade system and the DfT electronic documents and records management system
  • £83m spent by the Cabinet Office on a data centre, now scrapped, and a managed hosting project called True North, also canned, following contract breaches
  • £4.3m spent by the Ministry of Justice on the National Enforcement Tracker System, binned in August 2007
  • £1.06m spent by the Department for Communities and Local Government on the Housing and Employment Mobility Services Agreement project before it was cancelled

The Department of Health, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills did not wish to reveal the value of their cancelled projects, saying it would involve “disproportionate cost.”

Public Accounts Committee member Richard Bacon condemned this development, saying it was a “shocking reflection on the failure of the government to get the basics [of IT projects] right.”

Referring to the NHS National Programme for IT, he said: “That figurine would fund the primary schools in my constituency for a long time and in this time of economic uncertainty we have got to be looking after every pound that the taxpayer gives us.”

"That high a rate of cancellation suggests the government has not thought enough about what the IT project was for before getting started,” he added.

TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Matthew Elliott commented: “The saga of IT government IT is a huge list of failure after dismal failure – they never seem to learn from their mistakes and mismanagement.”

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