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Government IT use ‘must change’

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1 March 2011
Last updated at 22:40 ET

The government’s handling of IT is locked in a “vicious circle of costs and failures” and moves at a “glacial” pace, according to a report.

The independent Institute for Government recommends sweeping changes to the way ministers order new computer systems.

One recommendation is that new IT systems should be built piece by piece and tested by those who use them.

The Treasury estimates that government IT costs approximately £16bn per year.

The report urges the government to simplify its computing projects by setting shared standards which would cut costs and reduce duplication.

Flexible approach

The government has already said it is seeking significant savings in its annual spending on IT – and will announce on Wednesday that both the Treasury and Cabinet Office will have to approve IT contracts worth more than £5m.

Andrew Adonis, director of the Institute for Government said: “The billions spent on cancelled IT projects, such as ID cards and National Programme for IT, demonstrate precisely why we need a much more flexible approach to government IT.

“Our report has looked behind the scenes at this often unexplained back-office function that is fundamental to the effective and efficient running of government and public services.

“If a new approach to IT in government is not now put into practice, this will risk further haemorrhaging of public money.”

Ian Magee, chair of the Improving Government IT taskforce said: “Government IT offers many challenges but, it seems, few solutions that satisfy everyone.

“There is a well-documented history of too many high-profile and costly failures.

“The good news is that on the basis of the substantial research described in this report, we are convinced that there is a much better way forward for government IT.”

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Government IT use ‘must change’

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