Government hits back at IT blunders report

Labour hands off blame for IT mess to Conservatives, claiming government has learned from mistakes

The government hit back Thursday at claims it has wasted billions of pounds of taxpayers' money on unsuccessful IT projects, claiming it has learnt its lesson and will no longer "tolerate failure".

A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report published Wednesday highlights no less than 25 government IT projects which had been incomplete or abandoned due to inefficiency. Among them was the system devised for processing passports, which led to huge delays in issuing passports over the summer.

It has been an embarrassment for a Labour administration keen to promote e-government. Minister of State at the Cabinet Office Ian McCartney plays down the report, claiming the government is well on the way to learning from past mistakes. "My new team in the Cabinet Office is tackling problems as soon as we find them, examining current and future projects to ensure the utmost is done to make systems run as smoothly as possible," he said in a statement. "We won't tolerate failure. Government will be tough on providers who don't deliver on time, on budget, and who fail to improve services."

McCartney was also keen to throw blame back on the previous Conservative administration, pointing out that many of the projects criticised in the PAC report were started before May 1997 when the present government came to power.

Alan Duncan, shadow technology minister remains unimpressed with Labour's implementation of e-government. "IT can dramatically improve the way government does business. The devil's in the detail and the follow through. We don't seem to have had the follow through as the passport fiasco of the summer proves," he said.

What do you think? Tell the Mailroom. And read what others have said.