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Transport Dept. IT: 23 years late, £100m over-budget

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The Liberal Democrats have got their calculator out again and added up all the cost over-runs and delays at the myriad IT projects at the Department for Transport.

Taken together, all the DfT's various IT projects are 23 years late and more than £100m over budget.

This sounds bad until you realise that one project, the Shared Services Programme, is £92m over budget. The scheme - to provide central services for several transport departments - was originally to cost £31m but now has an estimated cost of £123m. But at least it's not late yet - the project is due for completion in April 2009.

Even more disturbingly this is the department which the National Audit Office told us on 16 January was a shining example of government good practice.

The Department for Transport has also been doing its bit for the government's drive to throw away all our data - it lost details on three million people taking the UK driving theory test from a "secure facility" in Iowa. The records included names, addresses, phone number and email addresses.

Vince Cable, the Lib Dems Shadow Chancellor, said: "Gordon Brown is living in a dream world if he thinks larger IT projects like ID cards are going to be any different."

A DfT spokesperson said: "DfT and its Agencies are providing high quality and often pioneering IT services to their customers, who demonstrate high levels of satisfaction with the service they receive, as well as improving the efficiency of our own operations.

"A recent National Audit Office report highlighted the achievements of the Department, which has taken the lead across Government in providing many and necessary services online. This report also highlighted the £33m expected saving that came with this."

The spokesperson shrugged off the Share Services cost overruns. "The Shared Services Transformation Programme is a long-term commitment to streamline and transform the way we work. The programme has already delivered its first major milestone - in April 2007 - with the opening of the shared service centre in Swansea." ®

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