The Labour government has wasted over £25bn on IT projects that have run over budget, suffered delays or been scrapped, according to a new investigation by The Independent published today.
The paper said that the cost of Labour's 10 worst IT failures are equivalent to more than half of the budget for Britain's schools last year.
It quoted comments by parliament spending watchdog the National Audit Office, which said that the projects were "fundamentally flawed" and that the ministers in charge were guilty of "stupendous incompetence".
The infamous NHS National Programme for IT unsurprisingly tops the list of most costly failures at £12.7bn, while second and third place go to the £7.1bn Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) project and the £5bn National Identity Scheme.
The report highlights poorly managed IT projects across Whitehall. One that was meant to save the Department for Transport about £57m eventually cost £81m, while the aforementioned DII is 18 months late and running more than £180m over budget, said The Independent.
However, not all commentators agreed that the current government is to blame for the current situation.
"The Public Sector is littered with stories of IT disasters that go back many years, and pre-date 1997. With a mandate to make transformational change, this government has been compelled to put in place highly ambitious IT to enable its modernisation objectives," argued Farhan Mirza, principal at consultancy A.T. Kearney.
"So when we talk about recent 'failures', how much has actually been spent? In the case of NPfIT in the NHS, little of the vast sums talked about has actually traded hands, since the contracts were designed to pay on delivery, which hasn't materialised."
Mark Davison, head of public sector at IT services provider Getronics, suggested that the risk of project failure could be reduced by mapping business objectives closely with IT solutions, and ensuring that technology is the means, not the end.
"If one lesson needs to be learned from these perceived 'IT failures', it should be that technology for the sake of technology is not a solution, just another problem," he said.
"The government needs to be clear that it appreciates this, and set its strategy accordingly, beginning by publishing its ICT policy direction that was leaked in November 2009."
Tory leader David Cameron has already pledged that a future Conservative government would end the era of "big IT projects", decentralising power and ushering in a "new era of transparency".
Geoengineering on the sea floor near glaciers would form a new ice shelf to prevent melting
Alterations in capillary blood flow can be caused by body position change
Curiosity rover is in 'normal mode' but not transmitting scientific data back to base
NatWest outage comes a day after Barclays' IT systems shut out customers and staff