The government should abandon its plans for large centralised IT projects, and hand control of personal information back to citizens, according to a new paper from Tory think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS).
The paper, entitled It's Ours: Why We, Not Government, Must Own Our Data (PDF), said that the government will spend about £16.5bn on IT in 2009/10, equivalent to 1.4 per cent of gross domestic product, but that only around 30 per cent of these IT projects will actually succeed.
The CPS proposes that the state should remain as "the default holder of personal data", but that citizens should be able to opt out of central control if they wish. For example, citizens could choose to use services such as Google Health to store health records and communicate with their GPs, removing the need for an NHS database.
"This approach requires all public services to use open data standards to ensure that data can be easily transferred from one provider to another, in the same way that customers can today transfer their accounts from one bank to another," the report said.
"The potential benefits of this approach are substantial. They include estimated savings on government IT expenditure of 50 per cent, more flexibility, better public services, greater security and privacy over data, and far less intrusion by the state into the everyday lives of its citizens."
Last week, Tory leader David Cameron said the Conservative party would create a more open government if it got into power, with the online publication of information about government jobs and performance reviews of institutions such as the NHS at the heart of the proposals.
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