Feeds

Millions wasted on IT: PAC chair parting shot

And the rest you just squandered

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The outgoing chair of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee has criticised government IT spending in an open letter to his successor.

In the letter, Edward Leigh said that departmental IT projects are "over-ambitious, overly complex and fail to deliver what is promised while costs rocket". He also set out 10 lessons on government spending.

"Reliable information is at the heart of efficient and effective government but, where this has been recognised, too often the response has been to buy a new IT system without planning what they need and allowing for adequate testing," wrote Leigh in the letter dated 29 March 2010.

He added: "Time and again, departments have wasted millions on IT systems that fail to live up to promise, come in late and cost hugely more than forecast."

The chair used the Rural Payment Agency's "woeful" implementation of the single payment scheme as an example of poor departmental IT spending. He said the £350m system for the scheme continues to cause "anxiety and hardship" for farmers. Leigh added that the system can only be supported at a huge cost and that the data it holds is "riddled with errors".

He also described the Ministry of Defence's new £7bn defence information infrastructure system as being "fatally flawed". Leigh wrote: "There was no proper pilot for this highly complex programme. In addition, the consortium implementing the project – led by EDS, a company whose track record of delivering government IT projects has not been exemplary – underestimated the complexity of the software it had agreed to create."

Leigh continued that the failures are not isolated incidents and that there are examples of poor IT practice "across government". He believes departments have not always shown themselves to be intelligent clients and sometimes show "a lack of capacity to engage effectively with suppliers".

In order to ensure the successful delivery of future IT projects Leigh says departments must adhere to three principles: ensure senior level engagement; act as an intelligent client; and make sure there is a means of realising the benefits of a project.

The use of information by government departments is another area that needs to be improved, Leigh wrote. "This woeful absence of information on cost and demand means that departments do not have the information to know what impact they get from the money they spend," he said.

Leigh will be stepping down as the committee's chair at the forthcoming election.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.