FreelanceNerd

Sunday, April 02, 2006

To err is human, to really foul things up requires a (public sector) computer

In general I don't have a lot of sympathy for farmers, but yet another Government IT disaster has left most of last year's farm subsidies stuck at the Treasury - at least this computer system only cost us £37m, which is small beer compared to the NHS's £6bn "choose and book" system that looks like costing £50bn (at current finger in the air estimates). In addition to these little gems:

  • £2bn of overpayments have been made by the tax credits system

  • estimates for the cost of the ID card system (with all the unproven technology involved) already range between £12bn and £30bn


In fact, the only public sector IT project to be working successfully at the moment is the London congestion charge system, which isn't run by central government.

According to Simon Jenkins in today's Sunday Times:
A forthcoming study of public sector IT (by Patrick Dunleavy and Helen Margetts) has British government the worst of seven leading purchasers, with the highest "scrap rate", the least contract discipline and the most unbalanced dominance by big suppliers. The American firm EDS has 51% of the UK market and is invulnerable to its own failures.

Cronyism is rife in central government and if you're in with the right people it doesn't seem to matter how badly your IT project is going, more money will be thrown at it and you will be rewarded with more contracts in the future.