back to article spaffed billions into IT projects at 'high risk of failure' last year

The British government blew £2.5bn on a number of IT projects flagged at high risk of failure in 2014/15, a Register analysis of the Major Project Authority annual report into big government programmes can reveal. The lifetime cost of all those IT projects is almost £36bn. The annual report on the status of 188 big projects …

  1. codejunky Silver badge


    There are some good ideas. I just dont think the public sector can be an easy client. Too much bureaucracy, too many committees and leadership that changes direction at the whim of the people.

    1. Steve Crook

      Re: Shame

      PFI School. Plans drawn up, school built.

      Cloakrooms have no coat hooks in them.

      Education authority complains about missing coat hooks.

      Contractor examines plans, no coat hooks in plans or other specs.

      Contractor says they weren't asked for them, EA approved & signed off plans.

      Contractor says they'll charge to fit them.

      EA outraged because *everyone* knows you can't have a cloakroom without coat hooks and they shouldn't be charged for them because they *should* have been there regardless of plans.

      Draw your own conclusions...

      1. Peter Stone

        Re: Shame

        I can beat that.

        The computer rooms, (each 40 foot square), in a brand new PFI school had their power sockets spaced round the walls, every two metres as per normal, but all the network sockets placed in the trunking run down from the ceiling. Problem was, all the backbone cable had been specified as cat 6, & the contractor thought he'd save a few pence on the quote.

        Thing was, no one had spotted this, & it was only when yours truly was allowed to look round the school, & saw it was it deemed incorrect, even though other members of the party, had been round the school, & had been on the planning committee.

        Another factor that magnified the ouch factor, was that the school was built as two wings of three floors, off a central hub. Originally the plans, negotiated by someone who was IT knowledgeable, had called for a network & power closet half way down each of the wings, however, the contractors had managed to get that overturned, & had had a single closet put on each floor of a the central hub, & don't get me started on the planet switches stacked 14 high!!

        (Icon for what happened to the network, despite my warning, when everyone logged on at once.)

    2. YetAnotherPasswordToRemeber

      Re: Shame

      You also forgot that no one wants to be the one with their name at the bottom of the page as signing off one something, as they'll be held accountable for the cock up

  2. Brenda McViking

    Unbelievable.... oh wait, no it isn't.

    £2.5bn this year is £35.70 for every man, woman and child on this island, assuming we're at 70m people now. That's like the gov buying me 10 beers with my own money, putting them on a tray and then proceeding to trip over at the bar and throw them all down my front.

    Nice one, gov. In fact, I feel about as pissed off at this as I would in this exact analagous situation.

    1. Matthew Smith

      That Keynesian economics for you.

      In your example, the money still goes to the pub. It keeps a business on your local high street, makes your town more attractive, provides a good source of low-skilled jobs, the brewery stays open too, and supports an industry where Britain is a major exporter. What goes around, comes around. So the money isn't quite lost.

      In actual fact, your £35.70 went to Capita, where.... Oh, hang on. The analogy doesn't apply to real life, does it?

    2. GCh

      or if we divide that 23 billion by, let's say £30K, a decent wage for most people... that is 760K jobs. We could have the smegging roads cleaned, repaired and have free backruns for most nurses if we weren't squandering. "We need to make cuts" my arse

  3. Little Mouse


    Does this figure include County Council spending as well, or did "central government" manage this all by themselves?

    1. Doctor_Wibble

      Re: Government?

      Given the way that central and local government like to pretend that on the one hand they are being extremely efficient and not spending any money, they also tell us that they have showered us with it and each of these extremes involves pretending that it was either local money or central government money to the point that nobody, including the auditors, have the slightest clue where any of it came from or where any of it actually went, apart from in very general terms like "it came from the taxpayer" and "it is now much further away".

      1. Hans 1

        Re: Government?

        >including the auditors, have the slightest clue where any of it came from or where any of it actually went

        Of course they know, it came from tax payers and went into a private bank account on the Isle of Man, what did you expect ?

        Closest icon I could find for burning pitch forks

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder when we'll reach the crossover point?

    That being the point where the amount of money wasted on Universal Credit IT exceeds the amount the Government hopes to save on welfare expenditure. I'm betting on December 2016

    1. Hans 1

      Re: I wonder when we'll reach the crossover point?

      >I'm betting on December 2016

      That would be 2014, if you ask me ;-) A really sad joke, sorry ...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accountability or lack thereof...

    How can people this incompetent still keep their jobs?

    Timer after time, and not just on IT spending, billions are wasted. Yet no-one gets the chop. Ever.

    1. Hans 1

      Re: Accountability or lack thereof...

      Would you dismiss your mate from a position because he wasted billions of tax payers money, yet, still managed to redirect millions into your personal Singapour or Isle of Man account ? Thought not ...

      Why do they not disclose precise amounts of the various deals in question ? We are paying after all ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Accountability or lack thereof...

        That presupposes they are all corrupt instead of merely incompetent...

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Accountability or lack thereof...

          Some are corrupt, most are incompetent.

          ALL want to cover that up.

          There may not be conspiracies to cock up, but there sure as hell are ones to cover it up.

          1. launcap Silver badge

            Re: Accountability or lack thereof...

            > Some are corrupt, most are incompetent.

            And the rest are incompetently corrupt.

  6. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse


    "These are particularly challenging, typically requiring a complex business transformation process with IT, organisational, operational, and regulatory change being implemented simultaneously."

    But these elements exist in every major programme I have ever delivered or worked on. None of those ever ended up in this shoddy state. What a fucking fiasco!

  7. Bunker_Monkey

    Those that cannot 'teach' or 'do'. Project Manage. I had a senior IT project manager ask me how best to describe a service request to provide access to a new system hosted by a council via Citrix..... Its obvious why these all fail. Especially the NHS unified patient db.

    Will someone please think of the children!

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock said, in the foreword to the report: "This year’s Annual Report makes for encouraging reading..."

    Just what planet is he on?

  9. SVV

    Civil service

    Like to recruit "high flyers" from you-know-which universities, almost invariably with top class degrees in subjects exteremely unrelated to IT. They then get fast tracked into positions in Whitehall that put them on projects such as these. Add in a large dollop of expensive bullshit "management consultancy" and hey presto! Gargantuan multimillion pound project so vast it's bound to fail!

    Any civil servant reading this, please inform your boss that successful IT companies do not do this - they train promising graduates thoroughly in how really to do things, rather than reading MBA textbooks, or (much more commonly) recruit experienced staff with some sort of track record of getting things done. And pretty much any monolithic project with the sort of scope and budgets described in this article is doomed to fail - badly.

    However, mere evidence of billions wasted on the usual suspects who milk this cash cow will never be enough to change the minds of the True Believers who think that all that is needed is to worship at the shrine of The Holy God of Outsourcing.

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