"Could the Treasury pass us a note on all the IT projects, in fact any IT project, that has been a success?"
Such was the tone of resignation in the voice of Public Account Committee member Frank Fields MP, it might seem that it has been another bad year for public sector IT.
For those unfamiliar with parliamentary committee procedures, witnesses are asked to 'pass notes' when faced with a question that requires so much research that it has to be delivered at a later date.
The official in question will have lots of work to do. Successful IT projects are crucial, with billions of pounds going to update the IT systems within the National Health Service and criminal justice agencies. But as usual there have been plenty of disaster stories.
But there have been successes. There has been a widespread acceptance that the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has been instrumental in improving public sector procurement of IT.
One area where the OGC has had some initial success was in its deal with Microsoft, estimated to put £60m back in the public purse. But in order to make the savings, big public sector agencies have to sign up, something that is yet to happen.
Undeterred, the OGC has forged ahead with cost saving programmes, increasing the number of open source trials.
And outside the large government departments, there has been considerable work going on at the local level.
With the 2005 target for getting services online looming, councils across the country have been developing innovative ways to improve their IT systems.
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