The future of the partnership approach to funding public sector IT projects is in "real danger" unless suppliers start delivering projects on time and on budget.
Government officials are dissatisfied with the number of IT projects that have failed, and are ready to consider alternative ways of funding programmes.
And having taken steps to improve its procurement processes, the government is less impressed with the response from suppliers.
Senior officials have even accused suppliers of lying about their capabilities in order to win contracts.
Speaking at the Strategic IT Partnerships in Government conference, Peter Gershon, chief executive at the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), warned that the government is tired of seeing public/private partnerships fail.
"There is little evidence that the IT industry has an understanding of what is needed to make these partnerships work," he said.
Gerson added that there is "a real danger" that public/private partnerships could be scrapped because of the perception in Whitehall that "naive public sector clients are being taken for a ride by contractors".
E-envoy Andrew Pinder indicated that poor project management within the public sector had caused a number of IT project failures, but that suppliers were also culpable.
"Some projects have failed because suppliers have lied about their capability and promised things they cannot deliver," he stated.
Previous failures, such as the Libra project to update magistrates' courts computer systems, could have been avoided by applying some simple management practices, according to Dr Tom Abram, chairman of modernising government at parliamentary lobby group, Eurim.
"There has been a fear that simple project management techniques won't work; that they don't seem appropriate for the scale of government projects. But I think this makes it worse," he explained.
Gershon said that the government intends to consider not only how it buys technology in the future, but whether IT can actually deliver business enhancements.
"Unless suppliers make it a hell of a lot easier to buy and implement IT, clients will become disaffected and will vote with their pockets," he warned.
The OGC has been developing frameworks for successful IT projects, introducing independent reviews throughout the procurement process, and assigning so-called Senior Responsible Owners charged with overseeing the work.
A guide for successful partnerships is due to be published imminently.
"But it is not sufficient to have just client-side reform," concluded Gershon. "Where do we see open admissions of industry's weakness and what they're doing to address it?"
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