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Friday, October 13, 2006

Treasury figures reveal IT project delays totalling 17 years

The scale of the problems facing large government information technology projects was underlined yesterday as Treasury figures revealed delays totalling more than 17 years. The fresh details, which came in response to a parliamentary question by the Liberal Democrats, emerged against the background of a two-year delay to the vast £12.4bn upgrade of the National Health Service's IT systems and as Labour prepares to launch the procurement process for its national identity card project, which is slated to cost £5.4bn.

Neither project features in the data released yesterday, which include only those that come under the control of the Treasury or one of its agencies.

"With the Treasury, who are allegedly the guardian of government efficiency programmes, finding it so difficult to keep IT projects on schedule, it would be utter madness to go ahead with further large IT projects such as ID cards," said Vincent Cable, Treasury spokesman for the Lib Dems.

The Conservatives also rounded on the government, arguing that the statistics demonstrated a failure of the efficiency drive heralded by Sir Peter Gershon's 2004 review of Whitehall.

Theresa Villiers, shadow chief secretary to theTreasury, said: "All that hype about Gershon and efficiency rings hollow when the real facts come out about dismal IT failures like this."

None of the Treasury schemes are on the scale of the NHS or ID card projects. Four of them are estimated to cost more than£100m, including the setting up of the Child Trust Fund scheme.

Most, however, are much smaller: a drive to comply with a new British information security standard is three years behind schedule but is estimated to cost only £2,000.

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Health Direct has long warned about Labour's failures in developing IT projects- on March 03, 2005 in Ten government IT projects hit 'red light' status we warned that Whitehall has revealed some details of its 10 most 'at-risk' IT projects, following a Freedom of Information request. The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has released details of IT projects found to be most at risk across Whitehall, but is keeping the projects' identities secret.


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