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UK.gov doesn't know its IT spend – but insists it will spend less

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The government has put the kybosh on IT projects worth £1bn, but has no idea how much it will still be spending, as it doesn't keep an overall tab on its tech spend.

Cabinet office minister Francis Maude was asked yesterday – by Charlie Elphicke MP – "how much government departments budgeted for expenditure on IT in 2010-11, and what changes to forecast expenditure there have been as a result of his policy on IT procurement since May 2010".

Maude's answer was refreshingly blunt: "We don't collect total spend on IT."

This might leave some naive CIOs spluttering over how you can know what savings can be made if you don't know what you're spending.

But Maude reassured Elphicke that whatever it is the government is spending, it intended to spend less.

"We expect substantial savings to arise from IT procurement policies introduced by this government, including the moratorium on new spend which commenced in May 2010," he said. "Department accounts, published at the year end, will provide a fuller indication of the impact of these policies on department expenditure."

By this point, observers might be expected to start shouting "show me the money". And Maude obliged, adding: "As an early indication of the size of savings accruing from the ICT Project Review process, departments reported the curtailment of 229 projects to gross a compound value of £1 billion."

Which is reassuring, and it would be really nit-picking of us to ask if that £1bn was the original value of the projects which had endured some curtailing, or whether the curtailment of the projects had saved £1bn.

So we did. We'll let you know when the Cabinet Office gets back to us. ®

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