Only 30% of government technology-based projects and programmes are successful, the official in charge of IT at one of its biggest departments has warned. Joe Harley, chief information officer at the Department for Work and Pensions, said current spending was not sustainable and the government needed to improve the quality of schemes while cutting costs.
The government has been criticised repeatedly for IT projects running over their budgets and timetables. The cost of running the HM Revenue and Customs’ IT system recently soared from £4.5bn to £8bn, while the public accounts committee last month said patients were unlikely to see significant clinical benefits from the £12.4bn NHS computer system by the time all the money has been spent in 2014. There is increasing anxiety over the ability to deliver the ID cards scheme.
He said public sector IT costs £14bn a year, equivalent to 75 hospitals. The government aims to cut costs by a fifth, particularly by targeting spending on desktops – which can cost £700 to £2,400 each.
“Today only 30%, we estimate, of our projects and programmes are successful. Why shouldn’t it be 90% successful?” he said in a speech to this week’s Government UK IT Summit, reported in Computer Weekly. “It’s about improving performance in projects and programmes and our day-to-day services as well as our procurement processes.” Predictable weaknesses such as inadequate requirements were often to blame.