back to article £100 MILLION poured down drain on failed IT projects - in just ONE YEAR

Whitehall mandarins have wasted more than £100m on failed or cancelled IT projects in the last 12 months. That’s according to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which has collated losses across all departments for 2013 – 2014. The Alliance uncovered £107m lost as projects were scrapped, gains weren’t realized or unnecessary costs were …

  1. Little Mouse Silver badge

    Better than expected

    I'm sad to say this, but my first thought was "Is that all?"

    1. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Better than expected

      Total UK Governement spending is well over £700 billion. Total government IT spending must be at least £10-20 billion. So that's less than 1% of the total spending that is wasted.

      Any private company that wasted less than 1% of their IT budget would call that an unqualified success

      1. Tim 11

        Re: Better than expected

        Don't forget this is just one specific category of one specific area that's being identified as wasted for one specific reason.

        If you take into account inefficient public services, benefit payments, parliament, bureaucracy etc, I'd guess at least 1/2 the £700 billion is "wasted" in that it could have been better employed had it not been given to government to spend.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Better than expected

          You reckon £350 billion is wasted? Let me guess: you only want money to be spent on the roads you drive on, the schools your children use, the hospitals you attend, and maybe -- just maybe -- the people you like. OK, got it.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Better than expected

        Any private company that wasted less than 1% of their IT budget would call that an unqualified success


        They would also probably have something that actually works, to show for the not-wasted expenditure.

      3. Vince

        Re: Better than expected

        "Any private company that wasted less than 1% of their IT budget would call that an unqualified success"

        Wherever you're employed clearly considers that a success. *ANY* waste is not considered "OK" in any sane business.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Better than expected

          >Wherever you're employed clearly considers that a success. *ANY* waste is not considered "OK" in any sane business.

          In a business it would be written off as either R&D or "training" and offset against tax...

        2. Eric Olson

          Re: Better than expected

          When you're one dude in a garage or basement trying to market a successful project, your margin for error (waste) is slim to nil.

          When you are a company that has billions in annual revenue, dropping 100 million on IT projects and have only 1 million be written off would not only be an unqualified success, but it would probably lead to a doubling of that write off through bonuses and parties, reduced through clever accounting shifts use of the tax code, then talked about like a Nessie sighting for years to come.

          The point is that when you have a lot of balls in the air, one or two will invariable hit the ground. IT projects are notoriously difficult to assess ROI on, so companies often are reduced to broad brush strokes by evaluating it all in aggregate and simply comparing the costs to the revenue generated. A few failed projects won't matter as long as something else delivered. It's cynical, but it's also reality.

          1. breakfast

            Re: Better than expected

            Absolutely! There is a pernicious myth that the private sector is somehow "more efficient" by its nature. Practically this seems more likely to be related to a matter of scale- huge private sector organisations are quite as clumsy and bureaucratic as public sector ones.

      4. flyonthewall

        Re: Better than expected

        Its not just £100 million and the wastage is not just 1% because the quirky public sector accounting systems easily allow for cover-ups of the real costs. There are lots of instances of waste & losses (not just IT) that fall under 'other' budget headings and won't show up. For example a couple of weeks ago the Insolvency Service IT system completely crashed (and not for the first time) and was off for over a week. Hundreds of staff stood around or were sent home early because the service runs a 'paperless' system and there is no effective back-up system in the event of an IT failure. Thousands of man-hours were lost but that is a staff costs not an IT cost.

    2. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: Better than expected

      Indeed. Just compare this to the amount the US government wastes on failed IT projects. They've burnt through so much money that they had to create a whole new agency (GSA) just to deal with all the waste...

      1. Richard Taylor 2

        Re: Better than expected

        You mean that Homeland Security could not absorb it all?

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Better than expected

        GSA has been around a lot longer than IT for the most part... since 1949. It was set up deal with waste all through out government. If one reads a bit history, there probably should have been something like this very early in the government.

        Citations: &

        Disclaimer: I'm' not a GSA employee nor would I want to be.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better than expected

      Better to ask "Is that all they found, yet?"

  2. phil dude

    FOSS for all...

    Ok had my coffee. Read this headline, knowing full well what was likely to be presented.

    Large wads of cash given to larges corps for no practical result.

    Here's a completely hypothetical question, with a practical result.

    How much funding would it take to make a fully FOSS environment for governments?

    a) $10 million

    b) $100 million

    c) $1000 million

    d) No amount of money, the corporations have got this sewed up.


    1. Dominion

      Re: FOSS for all...

      Most of these projects were probably to implement FOSS products...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FOSS for all...

        "Most of these projects were probably to implement FOSS products..."

        ^This. Outside of ERP/ERM government is FOSS-happy at the moment. Besides, none of the losses described were due to technology - they're short-sighted contracts. Further, and more to the point, FOSS isn't free. You're universally paying for commercial support (and it isn't cheap), and any licensing you do save on is usually offset by greatly increased implementation costs. The benefits are only realised further down the line post-implementation as the implementation costs are amortized and the reduced licensing opex takes effect. That saving is predicated on the department having the technical skills to self-support, otherwise expensive contractors end up just as embedded into the organisation as they've always been: there's no getting away from the fact good techies don't work for civil service rates.

    2. DaLo

      Re: FOSS for all...

      To be honest Phil, I don't think it would make any difference to the overall costs...

      The license fees or proprietary nature are not the problem here. The costs are for consultancy, development and support. These are larger super-enterprisey projects with all the usual super-enterprisey costs.

      The fact is there are few companies that can deliver the large contracts these departments think they want with all the vagueness of Government and are an approved supplier. The suppliers set themselves up for a ride on the gravy train when these contracts surface and that is what they get. Using FOSS would just move some of the money from the "licence cost" column into the "Open source advisor team" column.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FOSS for all...

        Try telling that to the poor bastards (I'm also guilty) who have only just made the move from XP to 7. They've now got a few more months of (so called) support for Server 2003. Guess what will happen in 4 years from now?

      2. phil dude
        IT Angle

        Re: FOSS for all...

        Thank you for expanding on the subject.

        My point about FOSS is not really about the licensing aspect, it is about the huge amount of $$ that seem to do DAMN all to raise the boat for everyone.

        So start with a mandate that NO non-FOSS software can be used AT ALL, within a useful time frame, if no alternative exists.

        That way we can start to fund the "add feature X" to "program Y" for the use of "project Z" to bridge the gap.

        These are called deliverables/milestones. We have them on grants, if we don't meet them we don't get year 2.

        There are complex scientific problems that take decades to solve. Databases, Websites, CRM, Office Tools, etc... are solved problems. Solutions exist. The common infrastructure should be an evolving, adapting bedrock for all other projects to use. I am NOT saying that big corps can't be useful.

        Your point about moving the "license cost" into another column, however is spot on the problem.

        Gravy trains are defined by overly general, poor project specification and opaque review criteria - surely these problems can be solved?

        How does Apple get a product to market including hardware and software and used by millions?


        PS this is a rant, because I had to use the and it is an example of $300 million that could probably done with $3 million.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: FOSS for all...

          So start with a mandate that NO non-FOSS software can be used AT ALL, within a useful time frame, if no alternative exists.

          That way we can start to fund the "add feature X" to "program Y" for the use of "project Z" to bridge the gap.

          These are called deliverables/milestones. We have them on grants, if we don't meet them we don't get year 2.

          Er, what do you think these losses are? You contract your developers to make the features you want, they develop them, they aren't suitable, "they dont get year 2", and a £1m write down is reported in the reg.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: FOSS for all...

          "So start with a mandate that NO non-FOSS software can be used AT ALL, within a useful time frame, if no alternative exists."

          We already have this mandate, except with the word "reasonable" put somewhere into that mangled sentence. Doesn't make a jot of difference - whether or not the software is open source has perishingly little impact on the things you're complaining about. The benefits are only realised years down the line in reduced opex and reduced lock in. The trade off for this is usually lower quality of support, a smaller talent pool, risk of the projects being abandoned and more effort expended in product integration.

          Don't make the mistake of thinking government, or indeed any large enterprise (including the SIs that do the work on these contracts), is a high-quality software shop capable of taking a fledgling open source product and building it out into something that revolutionises our industry. Also don't make the mistake of thinking that FOSS is as good as its non-FOSS equivalent - that's a mistake that will get you burned. There's no way you're replacing MS Office with Libreoffice in most businesses, just like there's no way you're replacing Informatica with Talend.

    3. william 10

      Re: FOSS for all...

      It would not take money, but change in attitude to IT by our politicians and especially the civil service. Currently IT is treated as a commodity/cost, with an attitude that if they can use Excel they know all there is to know about IT.

      The Civil Servants that manage IT projects need to have a proven track record of (5-10+ years) software development (using a key language like C/C++/C#/Java/Python/Ruby etc...) and managing software development teams.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: FOSS for all...

        "The Civil Servants that manage IT projects need to have a proven track record of (5-10+ years) software development (using a key language like C/C++/C#/Java/Python/Ruby etc...) and managing software development teams."

        No. They need to be able to analyse requirements properly. No amount of years experience with any number of languages will be of benefit if the requirements keep changing every 3 months.

    4. Vince

      Re: FOSS for all...

      I think you might entirely misunderstand the problem sadly.

      Licensing costs aren't actually that significant a figure in the sort of spending we're talking about. The vast majority of the money goes in all kinds of other ways, with the most expensive being the consultancy style services, implementation, that kind of stuff. Essentially "human" resource (which is also very very expensive and does not achieve the required goals).

      I'm working on a project right now where we've been successful in getting the gig, because we can do the same work at the same (arguably better) standard, but for considerably less money, by simply cutting out the processes that just rack up those costs.

      Big Corp likes to have lots of meetings, planning charges, pre-work visits, surveys and so on that just push the costs up, but aren't wholly necessary, and in most cases in the private sector would be part of the process. In the Public Sector, paying for things that are really part of the sales process is considered the norm. Then paying for the people who quoted the work to decide if the price they quoted is reasonable by "planning" after agreement, then racking it up with all the things that weren't in the incredibly tightly written specifications that allow zero movement...

      ...and so on and so forth.

      Meanwhile we've agreed a day rate, a scope of works, we've allowed contingency up-front and the project comes in, with a healthy profit margin (because private companies do have to make a profit to exist in the future) but a good level of service and result for the client, and can just get on with it.

      The issue isn't the licensing, it's always the incredible markups, the ridiculous processes and the red tape, which takes so long it allows the entire project to be rescoped in the meanwhile. Buying licenses is no big deal at all.

      Meanwhile, just saying FOSS is an answer is bonkers. FOSS won't implement itself, won't integrate itself, and won't deal with the training any better than licensed software. And those costs aren't free.

      1. phil dude

        Re: FOSS for all...

        Thank you for adding to the discussion. I am not saying FOSS is the answer - but it is definitely one of the prerequisites.

        Whenever I hear something is "too complex" , I tend to think "don't rock the boat, you might spill my drink".

        The DOE, NIH and NSF (and now DARPA) release software of incredible sophistication to the public.

        I am simply suggesting that for every $100 million (or equivalent) spent of PUBLIC money, there should be something exportable to public beyond the fluff that makes a great deal of contract work.

        I know this is "not simple" , but it is clear there is a perverse incentive in funding "big projects" for "big players". This is the stitch up in public view you have to be big to deal with the red tape, so the red tape adapts for the companies that can handle it.

        If the proposals were written with interoperability as part of the specification then smaller companies could consult to produce smaller *deliverables*. Is that what your company is doing?

        Hence the review process would allow a change of contractor and not reach the "we spend $100 million and it doesn't work. The "More please" symptom of govt work.

        Again, I am not saying FOSS is the answer, but there have been no compelling counter-arguments that it is not part of the solution.


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: FOSS for all...

          "The DOE, NIH and NSF (and now DARPA) release software of incredible sophistication to the public."

          You misunderstand these projects. They're rarely, if ever building software. Software Engineering consists of a tiny fraction of UK public sector IT spend, practised in dark corners by the likes of GCHQ, GDS and a few small groups of very specialist teams producing very bespoke products.

          Public sector IT spend is integration, not production. It's the cost of engaging people to buy kit and plug in servers and design networks and model business processes and design pipeline after pipeline to turn your tax return into something a database can understand, and then employing the hundreds or thousands of people to run the system after the fact. What stuff does get built tends to be so bespoke as to be useless to anyone else, hindered by such security requirements as to be impossible to return to the community or be so trivial that it's worthless.

          I absolutely agree with you that the public sector, and the contractors they engage, should endeavour to return as much of its labour to the public at large, and honestly, we really, really do try. The simple fact of the matter is often we just can't. Even in the best case, making the argument to a department that they should spend another four weeks of man time getting a completed product sanitised, refactored, documented and cleared for public release is an impossible sell.

          You can even take a look at the evidence. Here in the UK there's a group of hoodie wearing hipster types engaged by central government to drag the rest of us kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Whatever one thinks of their effectiveness in this task, they *do* have a remit to publish everything they can to github. You can find it here:

          The most popular project they've got is a service design manual. Take a browse through the rest of the stuff. Despite being in languages-of-the-month, it's typical of government SI work. Hundreds of small, very bespoke modules of absolutely no use to anyone who isn't the person who needed them in the first place.

  3. Josco

    myBOL - How appropriate

    Another usual bollox from those in charge. I did agree with Little Mouse though, I thought the figure a little low, but then we are not privy to all the information either.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: myBOL - How appropriate

      This is only for one year. The ongoing financial obligations for terminated/cancelled/failed contracts are not included so the figure may initially seem low but could be ten times that over a few years.

      Our council had to pay compensation after the withdrawl of an incinerator contract without a brick being laid. However not all that money came out of one year's Council funding so "the final cost will be £40million ..." but a single year's cost is as little as £13 million. Still nice work-for-no-pay if you can get it.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: myBOL - How appropriate

        I assume you're referring to the Kings Lynn Incinerator...

        That procurement was a cockup not only by the NCC, but also by central government lag (Eric Pickles calling in the planning and simply not acting on it). No-one could foresee that one (or someone did and assigned it a very low risk factor).

        Either way, yes, it's cost the citizens of Norfolk dear...

  4. RichardGranger

    This is peanuts compared with how much has been continually wasted on the comical NHS central records project over the last 12 years.

    Honestly, can I get my money back under the consumer goods act?

  5. Valeyard

    don't worry, they've got this

    The government investment in Lily Cole's IT projects will be due for return soon and that'll pay for many many years like this one, so don't even worry, just carry on as normal

  6. Zog_but_not_the_first

    So many cockups...

    Private Eye do a sterling service tracking "failed" Gov projects publishing who they are sold to, and for how much. Knock-down prices, of course.

  7. Ashton Black


    Government IT Contracts 101:

    1) Requirements written on the back of a fag packet. Certainly not addressing "typical and extraordinary" usage cases.

    2) These requirements, lost, when in translation into legalise for the contract.

    3) Duly signed off by a committee who didn't understand the requirements in the first place.

    4) Shock horror when the IT Biz delivers what the contract says.

    5) Change or Terminate contract at great cost.


    1. BoldMan

      Re: Basically...

      3a) Insist on running the project using "Agile" without properly understand the concept and thinking it means "make things up as we go along", then actually using it as a Blame Management Framework(tm) when all the different suppliers are trying to pass the buck.

      Sound familiar?

      1. Saint Gerbil

        Re: Basically...

        While insisting on big design up front. Since they need something to agree too and have a Gantt chart describing when it must be done by or else the world will end.

        But its still agile since we get up and talk about it for 5 minutes everyday.

      2. Ashton Black

        Re: Basically...

        Why, yes it does!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Basically...

      3b) Absolutely no penalty clauses for shoddy, late and non working offerings.

      I have yet to see a government contract that actually spells out exactly what is wanted, how it will be tested and what the penalties are for non compliance and also just how change orders are to be handled.

      On the last semi government project I was involved with I had the contracts department rewrite all their supply contracts to specify exactly what was required and actually add penalty clauses because they had never used them before. We had one supplier that was most upset when I invoked the penalty clauses for late supply and not up to specifications.

      1. Bluenose

        Re: Basically...

        You must see some odd Govt contracts then since I deal with them daily and every contract I look at has clauses in that allow the customer to claim for actual loss if the supplier is late in delivery or does not deliver the services to specification. In fact I recently tried to amend one framework where suppliers does not get paid for any work performed if they are late in delivery by more than a fixed number of days. Govt would not even return the work products that were provided even though they had not paid.

        Oh and by the way the reason there are no penalty clauses in UK Govt contracts is because under English Law you cannot seek a penalty in a commercial contract. Only damages to put you back in the position you would have been in had you not entered in to the contract and those clauses in Govt contracts are comparable with the IT industry norm for contracts.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Basically...

      I hate to say this as it goes against the grain.

      1. Our last set of requirements from the govt were large and pretty good given that nobody was 100% sure how things would turn out. Both parties were pretty sure to about 95% what was needed three years down the line in a custom project, but to specify it to the unit level test? No way. We worked pretty close to the contract and had the inevitable hiccup but as we had a good working relationship we got through it. Good working relationship was defined as releasing the pressure on each others throats just before the other person died (or pretty close afterwards).

      2. The contract uses the requirements as the basis for its work. They went hand in hand.

      3. The committee wrote the requirements and were involved all the way through.

      4. We pointed out areas that we thought were rubbish for them (as well as us) and we went through change control to amend. Sometimes (amazing to admit) we reduced our scope and sometimes we increased our scope. Our scope increased a little but was actually within contingency (shock horror).

      5. Contract Change Notes were managed reasonably quickly and effectively. If you set the system correctly up from the beginning and accept there will be change, expectations are set and managed appropriately.

      Somebody talked about penalties, not sure what contracts they are not in as the ones we have had stiff ones. We negotiated (well said no) the unlimited liabilities etc etc and had sensible ones with graduated levels. We also had reward clauses that were sensible.

      Most of what we did at the senior level was relationship management, this wasn't brown nosing, or smoozing the client but keeping them on side. Sometimes it was sitting in meetings taking a kicking for the team because we did cock up and sometimes it was giving it back because the client cocked up. However at the end of the day, both the govt dept and ourselves wanted the project to succeed, though neither at the expense of the others as the contract was written in such a way that neither would win if the other significantly lost.

      I note in passing that Agile was never used and that we used a more traditional PM method. Also Cabinet Office were not involved in any way. That certainly gave us more than a fighting chance.

      If I had to put reasons on why it was a success it would be:

      1. Relationship management both ways with senior management.

      2. A contract that was built for success for both sides or none won.

      3. Trust (gosh horror)

      4. A good team.

      5. No fucking Agile monkeys telling us what to do. They would have tried that once and been bounced the stairs and out the door with my foot so far up their arse they could have licked the soles of my boots.

      6. Proper contractual change management from day one.

      7. The client SRO and senior management not changing every six months. Ours lasted years.

      8. Good testers on both sides to keep the dev team on the straight and narrow.

      9. Proper project management from proper project managers.

      Sorry to throw reality into the situation. Of course I can also talk about the projects that Cabinet Office have been involved with as well as IDS and Universal Credit. Now that is a fucking gold plated, titantium framed clusterfuck.

      1. IHateWearingATie

        Re: Basically...

        Agree - a sure fire way to screw up a central gov IT project is to let Cabinet Office get wind of it and send people to 'help'. My advice is to brief security and not let them in the building.

  8. Saint Gerbil

    As a new start up...

    Where can I get on projects like this where I get given lots of money and don't have to produce on time or at all ?

    Does my company have to have a history of failure or would they take a punt on my little to no experience on government contracts ?

    1. 's water music

      Re: As a new start up...

      It's the track record that counts. Like they say, if I owe the bank GBP1 million, I have a problem. If I owe the GBP10 beeellion, the bank has a problem. The best time to survey where all the bodies are buried is when you are burying them.

    2. Eric Olson

      Re: As a new start up...

      You won't. The dirty secret is that any good government project manager, contract expert, or other team member will be quickly identified and plucked from the ranks to better pay in the private world. In exchange for that, their intimate knowledge of the process is used to ensure that the hiring contractor knows exactly how to tick all the right boxes for the next RFP that comes out.

      The game isn't rigged, it's just set up in such a way that only the big boys and their former government employees can even get a seat at the table, let alone have a chance at winning the bid.

      And you probably don't want to think about how those RFPs are created in the first place when the government often has to go to consultants to put them together...

    3. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: As a new start up...

      The trick at the place I worked seemed to be to offer the moon on a plate so long as they can spec it. Keep them forever engaged in creating and adjusting the spec and the money keeps rolling in.

      If customers do push for deliverables those come exactly as specified, which is rarely what they wanted or needed. Then it's back to the office to discuss how much changing the spec will cost.

      They won't repeat that mistake in a hurry so next project they end up trapped in the never ending specification and planning stage paying ongoing costs without any roll-out ever being on the horizon. Just when they think it's done we can reveal an obvious flaw we forgot to mention earlier and around it goes again.

      We help them through it, they think we are their bestest friends in wanting them to get things right, so they keep coming back for more of the same

    4. Loud Speaker

      Re: As a new start up...

      "Where can I get on projects like this where I get given lots of money and don't have to produce on time or at all ?"

      Its not what you know, but who you know.

      1. Bluenose

        Re: As a new start up...

        Or you could simply apply to join one of the many Govt frameworks that are out there: G-Cloud, Network Services, Digital Services, Technology Services, etc. These are all designed to allow small companies to get their foot on the ladder of Govt. tendered work. Of course you will have to sign up to all the T&Cs but then most small companies never let an onerous contract term stop them from bidding :)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Government contracts

    We've built an infrastructure for a government contract in the past, had about a week and a half to build the base infrastructure, no infrastructure specification no design documents, just some details of servers and IP addresses.

    Yeah, thanks for that.

    Obviously it hasn't been exactly smooth running although it does work.

    Bloody sales people, project managers with no proper realistic timescales.

    Anon obviously.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Government contracts

      I feel for you. Did you write a contract to cover yourselves that they had to sign before you accepted the job?

      1. Bluenose

        Re: Government contracts

        Government would have provided the contract and refused to negotiate on any of the terms.

  10. Professor Clifton Shallot

    Is any of this actually a problem?

    Surely this sort of thing is just a combination of quantitative easing and New Deal style job creation - money is being fed into the economy,people are employed, and there will be a great legacy of useful infrastructure as a result.

    Well, apart from the last bit, obviously.

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: Is any of this actually a problem?

      Today's goverments don't have the organisation ability, the will or the imagination to create a legacy like 'the New Deal' in America during the 1930's.

      Where possible, any project paid for with public money should be public domain, at the very least there would be some benefit to the population footing the bill if the resulting code (if any) from these projects were released to the population (BSD or GPL). Not useful to most, but some genius somewhere might be able to pick it up and run with it (did I just use a rugby phrase?).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is any of this actually a problem?

        "Today's goverments don't have the organisation ability, the will or the imagination to create a legacy like 'the New Deal' in America during the 1930's."

        What legacy? Respectable analysis shows that the New Deal prolonged the depression by several years, and all the main indicators (GDP, unemployment, personal consumption, private sector investment) were still lower in 1939 than they were in 1929. I think Europe's attempts recently to spend billions it doesn't have without kickstarting any sort of recovery reinforces the failure of mainstream Keynesian philosophy, and Southern Europe is a classic example of vainglorious New Dealism - loads of EU funded infrastructure projects that have delivered nothing, whilst the resepctive economies wallow in pubic and private debt run up during a boom.

        You're welcome to your New Deal legacy.

  11. Richard Taylor 2

    But never fear

    It is all getting better. Ian Duncan Smith (yes he of the integration of benefits to the benefit of few other than shareholders in large multinationals) has just announced that Universal Credits will come in before time and under budget - universal credit(?) but then I suppose it is the Guardian that is announcing this…..

  12. maffski

    This would be the same report that claims 50 million spent on bird flu vaccines that have now expired their use by was 'wasted' as we didn't all die in a pandemic.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      re: This would be the same report that claims...

      Does it also claim that the UK Flu vaccine for last autumn was also 'wasted' spend, since it didn't actually protect against the strain of flu that is doing the rounds?

    2. Loud Speaker

      Would it have been any less wasted if we had all died in an epidemic?

      The vaccine was known not to be relevant to bird flu, but only relevant to big pharma's HSBC swiss bank accounts.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you cannot trust someone who lies about going to college with a 600million underspend, who can you trust?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like to think of it not as £100M wasted, but £100M gained by the managing partners of the consultancies!

  15. Eponymous Bastard


    Haha, too many people here are getting their knickers in a twist. Just think how much the government can waste trying to "fix" "climate change" - ****ing billions!

  16. returnmyjedi

    Spiffing. They could build a decent sized and specced district general hospital (and then blow it up again) for that sort of cash.

  17. Eric Olson

    So is it better to cut losses after £100m...

    Or double down in hopes of "getting to done" in the next year?

    It sounds like the commentards here are adherents to the sunk cost fallacy.

    That or like most hit pieces, the Taxpayer's Alliance would have also been happy to take a hatchet to the government for continuing to work those projects.

    Consider the source.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT projects - middle-age wars of the 21st century


    Off we go!

    Into battle once more!

    Same waste.

    Different cause.

    Less dead.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not all is wasted

    My project was officially cancelled, but we are continuing with the same codebase, doing more-or-less the same thing. I'm just not allowed to refer to it with the previous name.

    One whole team of users was made redundant, so the functionality specific for them is wasted (about 20%). The figures say we lost £3M, but really it's more like £600k.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    on huge projects it is relatively easy to spend £1m just to validate the business case

    Projects will always have to spend some money to validate business case and work out costs, cancelling projects at this stage is not "waste" as long as it is not normal.

    What is waste is when projects get into delivery of infrastructure, software, training etc then become cancelled as what is left is a lot of assets that no longer have a purpose (usually incurring ongoing costs)

    And as previous commentards point out, as a porportion of overall spend it actually looks pretty good.

    The underlying theme of poorly specified projects and contracts is the real waste rather than the cancellation of projects identified as not meeting business case once validation has been performed.

  21. NeverMindTheBullocks

    It's not about the technology

    It's about the contracts and procurement processes.

    Govt. procurement is simply not up to scratch when going up against the big suppliers. Their commercial and contracts people are far more experienced and far better at negotiating contracts that the civil servants are. This is why you end up paying for decommissioned sites because no-one thought to put in a clause to the contract that meant you didn't have to pay for stuff you didn't use any more.

    It's the same across the board. Look at the excesses of MoD spending caused by badly drafted contracts. Or spending on NHS supply contracts rather than IT.

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