Taxpayers money squandered say watchdog
Almost £300m-worth of public sector IT projects have been binned in the UK, sparking accusations the government is embarking on the schemes without proper thought.
In a series of written answers to parliament, it was revealed that Whitehall has shelved £273m-worth of major IT schemes over the past five years.
The figure was condemned by Public Accounts Committee member Richard Bacon, who labelled it a "shocking reflection on the failure of the government to get the basics [of IT projects] right".
The £273m included:
- Department for Work and Pensions
£149.4m of projects were axed including £135m for the cancelled Benefits Processing Replacement Programme (BPRP) project handled by IBM and PA Consulting and £11.2m for the retirement planner being run by Accenture and EDS.
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
£26.2m spent on cancelled projects, including the £12.6m Catalyst electronic records system, the £9.6m Customer Information Programme and the £4m Phoenix system to handle licences for protected species.
- Department for Transport
£9.2m spent on canned projects, including £7.9m on the DVLA's Tracking Vehicles Through the Trade system and the £853,899 DfT electronic documents and records management system.
- Cabinet Office
£83m data centre scrapped and a managed hosting project called True North was also axed, following contract breaches.
- Ministry of Justice
£4.3m spent on the National Enforcement Tracker System when it was cancelled in August 2007 after being judged to no longer be providing value for money.
- Department for Communities and Local Government
£1.06m was spent on the Housing and Employment Mobility Services Agreement project by the time it was cancelled.
Several departments - including the Department of Health, the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills - refused to reveal to parliament the value of cancelled projects, claiming it would involve "disproportionate cost".
The Public Accounts Committee's Bacon, a long-time critic of the NHS National Programme for IT, said: "That figure would fund...
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...the primary schools in my constituency for a long time and in this time of economic uncertainty we have got to be looking after every pound that the taxpayer gives us.
"That high a rate of cancellation suggests the government has not thought enough about what the IT project was for before getting started."
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "People will be shocked that so much money has just been poured down the drain, particularly at a time when ordinary families are struggling to make ends meet.
"The saga of government IT is a huge list of failure after dismal failure - they never seem to learn from their mistakes and mismanagement."
The figures were revealed in a series of parliamentary written answers to shadow chief secretary to the treasury Philip Hammond.
Anne McGuire, the former minister for disabled people, told parliament about £73m of the money spent on the BPRP would be of future use to the department.