Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The saga continues - but a review may be in sight: 'Secret computer deals that are costing the taxpayer billions'

The Times reports that:

"It is costing the taxpayer almost as much as the autumn bank bailout. But the huge amounts being spent by the Government on information technology - £16 billion this financial year - are barely noticed. With no central regulation by one ministry, civil servants enter into contracts worth billions with a few select companies. The details are protected by confidentiality agreements and periodic progress reviews in Whitehall are kept private, despite calls by MPs and anti-privacy campaigners for their disclosure. The cost of most large projects balloons. The Government admits that only about 30 per cent are completed on time and on budget.

An investigation by The Times and Computer Weekly shows that the overrun of the largest IT projects totals £18.6 billion. Those include a controversial plan to computerise all NHS patients' records, originally estimated to cost £2.3 billion over three years but the cost of which has grown to £12.7 billion. Two companies have dropped out of the project, which is already four years behind schedule. Hospitals left with obsolete equipment have had to up-grade on their own. Yesterday Whitehall sources told The Times that the NHS programme, which aims to link more than 30,000 GPs to nearly 300 hospitals, would be reviewed. Non-foundation-trust hospitals would be allowed to opt out and buy from smaller providers. . ."