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.
Labour’s multi-billion- pound project to create the NHS’s first ever national computer system “isn’t working and isn’t going to work”, a senior insider has warned.
The damning verdict on the ambitious £20 billion plans to store patients’ records, and allow people to book hospital appointments, on a central computer network has been delivered by a top executive at one of the system’s main suppliers.
Andrew Rollerson, the health-care consultancy practice lead at the computer giant Fujitsu, warned that there was a risk that firms involved in the project would end up delivering “a camel and not the racehorse that we might try to produce”.
His bleak assessment was delivered in a speech on the health service’s national programme for IT that he delivered to a conference of computer experts last week and which is reported in today’s Computer Weekly magazine.
The company charged with rescuing the NHS’s troubled IT system has consistently failed to meet its deadlines for introducing the project across the health service, The Observer can reveal.
Last week Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) was awarded a £2bn contract to take on a bigger role in overseeing the implementation of the Connecting for Health system, the biggest civilian computer project in history which is supposed to electronically link all doctors’ surgeries and hospitals. But government hopes that CSC will prove the £12.4bn project’s salvation have been hit by news that the company has itself experienced huge problems in implementing even the most basic parts of the project.