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UK's e-Govt plans are a joke

History tells us Britain Online is doomed to fail

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Comment So the British Government is to spend £1 billion on IT to modernise public services.

It's enough to make you weep.

The Government's record on IT projects is pitiful - scandalous even - yet that doesn't appear to stop ministers from coming up with one hair-brained scheme after another.

For instance, in May the Government published a report, Successful IT - Modernising Government in Action, which pinpointed 30 areas where it failed to manage IT projects.

Among the improvements suggested were employing trained staff, monitoring budgets and reviewing the progress of the project. Presumably this is because no one had bothered to do these things in the past.

Still, this recommendation came too late for the National Audit Office, which, in August, slammed Blair's bodgers for wasting £1.6 billion on a computer system intended to crack down on benefit fraud.

Then there's the £13 million - chicken feed by comparison - that caused holiday chaos last year at the Passport Agency.

Oh, and the Inland Revenue which lost tax records and refused to accept tax returns online because of a glitch.

And don't forget the nation's new Air Traffic Control centre in Southampton that is years overdue, still not operational and massively over budget.

That's not all. The Government's Web site fell over earlier this year because too many people had voiced their opinions in the e-talking shop.

And in May, a survey of British dotcoms found they were deeply dissatisfied with the Government's handling of the new economy. E-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt was singled out for the harshest criticism when only seven per cent of those who took part in the survey said she was "doing an effective job".

Truth is, when it comes to IT and the Net, the Government makes the Russian navy look like a slick, safe operation. What a waste. ®

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