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Work and pensions IT projects £315m over budget

As completion date slips from 2007 to 2011

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An MP has revealed that a single Department for Work and Pensions project is responsible for £169m cost overruns.

The project, which is intended to help improve customer service and deliver efficiencies, was planned for completion in March 2007. It is now scheduled to be finished in 2010 or 2011, and cost £598m rather than the planned £429m, according to a parliamentary written answer.

The information was requested by Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor. He told GC that IT projects would benefit from such data being readily available, rather than it requiring extraction by parliamentary questions.

"There are problems of commercial confidentiality, but the boundaries are drawn far too tightly, and we would be very much more committed to open government," he said of how his party would improve matters.

The department has also overspent on its Central Payments System, which is £63m or 70 per cent over its budget and more than four years late; the Customer Information System, £49m and 123 per cent over budget; and its Fraud Referral and Intervention Management System, which is set to cost triple its original £11m budget.

The net total of £315m comes from seven projects which are £331m over budget, and three of which are under by £16m.

Cable added that better disclosure in itself would improve management. "The more they are subject to public scrutiny and independent assessment, I think probably there's a greater incentive for people within the system to run them properly," he said.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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