UK Government Wastes Nearly Â£2 billion on Abandoned IT Projects Since 2000
The London Guardian today published an analysis which found over Â£1,865bn has been spent on UK government IT projects that have been abandoned since 2000. As the newspaper notes, its "survey of abandoned projects is not exhaustive and the total of Â£1,865bn is likely to be a considerable underestimate of the actual cost to taxpayers because neither Whitehall nor the National Audit Office, parliament's financial watchdog, keep definitive lists of which schemes go wrong."
To say that it is an underestimate is itself an understatement, if Joe Harley, chief information officer at the Department for Work and Pensions (and former ICI Paints global chief information officer) is to believed. In May 2007, he said at the Turning the Tide Government UK IT Summit 2007 that, "Today only 30%, we estimate, of our projects and programmes are successful. It is not sustainable for us as a government to continue to spend at these levels. We need to up the quality of what we do at a reduced cost of doing so."
Given that the UK has spent nearly Â£100bn on IT since 2000, and 70% are not considered successful, I seriously doubt that only about 3% of those unsuccessful IT programs (no matter how you define success) were abandoned.
The UK government has gone on record as saying it wants a 90% plus IT success rate - meaning on time, on budget and to specification - by 2010/11.
To "Turn the IT Tide," assuming a uniform improvement rate of 15% and using the end of 2011 as the target date, then by the end of 2008, we can expect something like 45% of UK government IT programs to be successful. I'll be watching.