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UK.gov spunked £153m on reorganisation IT

That's a lot of deckchairs

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The National Audit Office says that nearly 20 per cent of the £780m spent on central government reorganisations over the last four years has gone on IT.

Nearly half of departments reported that IT purchasing had a high or moderate cost impact on their reorganisation process and 45 per cent said the same about website development, according to NAO's report Reorganising central government.

The document, published on 18 March 2010, says there were an average of 20 reorganisations of Whitehall departments each year between May 2005 and June 2009.

The spending watchdog's scrutiny of 51 reorganisations revealed they had each cost an average of £15m, just under £200m a year overall.

"Because of the time pressure, transition teams in new departments have to plan and implement change simultaneously, while also dealing with challenges for which they have had no time to prepare," says the NAO.

"The transition team at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills faced additional challenges of agreeing shared services arrangements, arranging contracts with suppliers, and setting up information technology systems."

Other problems highlighted in the report included delays in relocating Cabinet Office staff which required unexpected changes to IT for the Office of the Third Sector. Problems in migrating data resulted in file loss and harm to corporate memory.

The creation of a single team in government to oversee all government reorganisations is among the NAO's main recommendations. It also says that significant reorganisations should be announced to Parliament and the intended benefits should be set out in measurable terms.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: "With 90 reorganisations in four years, UK central government machinery is in a constant state of change. At approximately £200m per annum, the costs are far from negligible and the reorganisations inevitably involve disruption and loss of service.

"We believe a more deliberate and carefully planned process makes sense before such costs are incurred and would also like to see a slow down in the rate of change."

This article was originally published at Kable.

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