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:
- National Programme for IT;
- Defence Information Infrastructure (DII);
- National Identity Scheme;
- Libra court system;
- Single Payment Scheme system (SPS);
- GCHQ "box move" of technology;
- National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis);
- Benefit Processing Replacement Programme;
- Prism IT project, and;
- Shared Services Centre.
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.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.