Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Update On Government IT Spending

Plenty of mouth- and trousers too

The government's CIO Council - founded in 2005 - has just published its first annual report. Chief Information Officers are the guys who actually run those troublesome government mega-projects, and naturally most of their report comprises their latest triumphs in tractor production (eg it hails the achievements of the dire NHS Re-Direct). But there are a couple of interesting snippets:

£12.4bn total spending in 2005-06- This includes about a billion apiece for DWP, HMRC, and MOD- appalling money pits all. It also includes £1.1bn for Connecting for Health, which seems light for the NHS supercomputer. However, the report records another £1.4bn for the NHS, and another £0.1m for the Dept of Health, so the true total is clearly much higher.

More fundamentally, the total mixes together apples, pears, and probably guava fruit as well. For example, some of the underlying numbers are capital costs, whereas others are just PFI "rental costs". And it isn't clear that the figures include associated knock-on costs, such as training staff in new systems and loading data, which we know is a large extra cost of the supercomputer.

The bottom line is that the true total is almost certainly much higher.

551 government websites to close- Anyone who has used government websites knows how awful most of them are. Even if the information is on them, you can't find it because the search functions are such pants. The CIO's response is to close 551 of them (out of nearly 1,000), and "migrate" their content to DirectGov or Business Link. Er... guys... they ain't a whole lot better.

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