Government ripped off by IT giants – IT projects are too expensive and not fit for purpose

By Allan Watton on

The report Government and IT- “A Recipe For Rip-Offs”: Time For A New Approach published by the Public Administration Committee states that a complete overhaul of the entire system of procurement is needed to eliminate the ‘cartel’ of big IT firms and obscene amounts of public money being wasted on ineffectual IT schemes.

Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to end the era of vast Government IT projects that he said had dominated Labour’s time in power. In our experience this legacy of poor procurement has resulted in late, over-budget IT systems that are not fit for purpose.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: ‘We have already made significant improvements to the management of IT projects including introducing new ICT controls, increasing transparency, and creating robust governance arrangements.’

We work extensively in local Government and have found that their operating practices, diligence and accountability in improving services with continually reducing budgets, is testamount to how IT systems can be implemented on-time, on budget and are fit for purpose. Central Government could well benefit from visiting the local authority community to help teach them a thing or two about improving efficiency and reducing costs.

And a review of the restrictive OJEU rules wouldn’t go amiss. The report recommends that departments across Whitehall use more small and medium sized IT suppliers to increase competition and bring down prices. But the problem lies in a huge barrier to entry for many firms; are they able to get on a Framework Agreement in order to bid for the work? Answer: No. The burden of bureaucracy simply swamps smaller businesses from effectively bidding.

It’s time that Government ceased looking at short term savings at the expense of long term benefits. Expert advice isn’t cheap, but its benefits can reap rewards many times its cost. Return on investment is the key.

Big is not always better; it’s time for ‘small is beautiful’.

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