MoD wastes £30m on failed IT projects

National Audit Office charges the Ministry of Defence has wasted nearly £30m on IT projects

The government finds itself facing more criticism Wednesday for its implementation of IT.

Already under fire from its own accounts department for scrapping 25 major IT projects, the National Audit Office reveals today that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has wasted nearly £30m on two IT projects.

The first project -- a communications system for the RAF -- was abandoned because of problems integrating it with other systems and £21m was written off. Instead the department implemented an off-the-shelf solution, a snip at a mere £1.3m.

The second -- a pay system for the Navy -- was closed when it became clear that the project would cost three times the expected cost of £18.9m. £8.7m had already been spent -- this too was written off.

The MoD admits it has made errors. "We acknowledge that the management of these projects leaves a lot to be desired," a spokesman told ZDNet News. He claims that the organisation has learnt from its mistakes and "many changes have been made in the acquisition of IT systems". This includes the use of prototype systems to get early user-feedback, and incremental implementation rather than dramatic change.

It is the second time the National Audit Office has found the government wanting in its adoption of IT. In December it criticised the Labour administration for inefficient use of the Net. The string of errors is likely to come as a major embarrassment for a government committed to technology and e-government.

The government is also taking the criticisms of its IT policy seriously and has set up a Cabinet Office-based team to develop a strategy for the development of IT projects. It has invited comment from industry and is enlisting the help of the CSSA (Computer Software and Services Association) to suggest better ways it can deliver IT across government.

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