The government has hired Martin Read, Logica's former chief executive, to conduct a thorough review of its IT projects after many have gone over budget or failed to deliver on their original targets.
Yvette Cooper, secretary to the Treasury, said Read, who left Logica in 2007, will review how the public sector invests in IT and guide the government on improving the efficiency and results of its IT projects, the Financial Times has reported.
“Major IT projects can be a headache in both the private sector and the public sector. However, IT has also delivered substantial savings and improvements,” she was quoted as saying. “That’s why I want to see the public sector do much more to improve value for money in the use of it”.
The government also plans to appoint three other business leaders to examine ways to improve buying power, and management of government assets and property, it was reported. Two years ago, it appointed John Suffolk, then director general of criminal justice IT, as public sector-wide chief information officer.
The government spends £13 billion each year on IT. But Downing Street has struggled to ensure a number of key IT projects are delivered on time. Most notably, the £12.7 billion NHS National Programme for IT, to digitise patient records, is four years late and last month lost a second key contractor, Fujitsu.
A number of senior figures in the IT industry have since called for the government to reconsider the NHS IT programme. But Whitehall has claimed it would cost the NHS £4.5 billion more for local trusts to buy the IT and services instead.
Other notable government projects that have been hit by problems include the Child Support Agency’s £456 million IT system, set up by EDS, that still had 500 faults three years after it went live, and is now being overhauled under an operational improvement plan, costing a further £320 million.
HM Revenue and Customs is overhauling its IT systems, run by Capgemini under the £8.5bn Aspire contract, in an attempt to reduce running costs by 10 per cent by 2010-11.
The Ministry of Defence's 10-year Defence Information Infrastructure programme, to provide secure data access online to troops in the field, remains behind schedule. But the government said it would to deliver the promised benefits.
Last month, the National Audit Office said a shared services scheme at the Department for Transport (DfT) that was meant to save £57 million, would make losses of £80 million instead. And the Committee of Public Accounts called claims by the government, that it could save £1.4 billion annually through public sector-wide shared services, “a flimsy estimate at best”.