Row flares over success and accountability of Whitehall IT projects

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The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee this week released a report to encourage successful implementation of government IT projects, just days after the government went to the High Court to keep the results of internal "gateway" project reviews out of the public eye. John Stokdyk reports

The government spends 12-14 billion a year on information technology and the PAC report noted the "considerable risk" to to public funds and service levels if major IT-enabled projects fail. Between 90 and 120 projects are consisdered "mission critical", noted the report and, " given a history of past failures, government departments need the structures and management processes to secure greater success in IT-enabled programmes and projects".

The report continued: "In the pas...

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08th Jun 2007 06:56

IT problems
They spend £12-£14 billion ???? Someone is getting rich from poor performance . The new CIS system , even though it was delayed a further year to get it right , is just an absolute shambles and does not work AT ALL !

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09th Jun 2007 09:43

there's a very good book.....
While politicians come and go, civil servants are the permanent part of the government and ought to be experts at administrative systems.

Instead the ciil servants are hopelessly incompetent. It's an institutional thing. These IT projects will always be disastrous and it will never get any better.

If you want to see how it's done, there's a very good book called "Plundering the Public Sector" by David Craig who used to work for one of the major IT consultancies. The big consultancies are taking billions of taxpayers' money from these idiots. Reading it makes me ashamed to be in the profession..

And if you think the Tax Credits system was a disaster, that's nothing. The new £12 billion NHS system is just being rolled out. It's a disaster of course, but the civil servants are forcing the NHS trusts to buy it whether they like it or not . But maybe they will find that this disaster is more difficult to cover up, and when people start dying........

Here's a piece by Tony Robinson of Computer Weekly, Tuesday 10 April 2007

"The sad thing about the IT-related crises at Milton Keynes General Hospital is that everyone involved wanted its "early adopter" systems installed under the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) to succeed.

A letter signed by 79 end-users at the trust described as "heroic" the staff who have prepared for the systems' go-live and have worked extra hours to cope with subsequent difficulties. They also described Fujitsu, the supplier of the Cerner Millennium Care Records Service software, as heroic.

But heroism has not prevented glitches that have been "unacceptable and particularly bad in outpatient clinics". The case notes of 40 patients are said to have been lost. This repudiates the main business justification for the NPfIT Care Records Service: that lost case notes would become a thing of the past.

More seriously, say the letter's signatories, "The software is so clunky, awkward and unaccommodating that we cannot foresee the system working adequately in a clinical context."

Milton Keynes is the fifth trust in Southern England to go live with the NPfIT system. There have been complaints at other sites.

Staff at Connecting for Health, which runs the NPfIT, worked hard to ensure success. But the problems seem to be getting more serious.

We do not blame software supplier Cerner. It has a good US-based product that is proving a challenge to anglicise. Yet NHS trusts across Southern England are contractually obliged to install it.

There comes a time when a minister has to say, "Do we really want to continue with this sort of disruption? Or is there a better way, even if we have to admit we got some important things wrong when we first announced the programme?"

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