The UK newspaper The Independent published a scathing article on the Labour Government's top 10 IT fiascoes and claimed that they had cost British taxpayers some £26 billion over the past decade, or the "equivalent to more than half of the budget for Britain's schools last year."

Many of the IT fiascoes will be familiar to Risk Factor readers. They include the:

Summaries of each project failure can also be found in The Independent's article.

The article points out that of the 9,000 National Health Service health organizations that were to receive electronic health record systems by 2005, only 160 have so far, with the majority being GP practices rather than hospitals. As we noted here, the UK government is looking to scale back its commitment to the program as a cost cutting move. The paper also points out that taxpayers have paid  £39.2m bill for "legal and commercial support" for the National Program for IT so far.

The paper also noted that one IT program, the Department for Work and Pensions Benefit Processing Replacement Programme had been approved in June of 2006, and then was quietly cancelled three months later at a cost of £106 million without explanation. Apparently, there is still no explanation, but I noticed that the figure given by the Independent was less than the £141 million that was originally estimated to have been spent on the project.

I guess that is some good news.

In January 2008, the London Guardian ran a story that the UK government had lost almost £2 billion in abandoned IT projects alone since 2000. Sounds like they now need to update their story a little. 

All this is, of course, unwelcome news to the Labour Government since it faces a general election in the next few months, and it is currently behind in the polls.

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less