A committee of MPs has criticised the government's record of developing IT systems, warning that Downing Street needs to end its over-reliance on an oligopoly of suppliers, and branding it "ridiculous" that some departments spend an average of £3,500 on a desktop PC.
In a new report, Government and IT- "A Recipe For Rip-Offs": Time For A New Approach, the Public Administration Committee argued that the lack of in-house IT skills and over-reliance on contracting is a "fundamental problem" for the government.
"IT procurement has too often resulted in late, over budget IT systems that are not fit for purpose," the report said.
"Given the cuts that they are having to make in response to the fiscal deficit, it is ridiculous that some departments spend an average of £3,500 on a desktop PC."
The report highlights several big name IT failures of previous governments, including the Child Support Agency's IT system and the National ID Card scheme, as well as more recent cases of mismanagement which saw the Department for Work and Pensions cancelling a contract with Fujitsu for desktop computers.
The Public Administration Committee argued that the government must break out of its current relationship with suppliers by improving benchmarking data collection, publishing more information on contracts, widening the supplier base and working in a more agile manner.
Ovum analyst Jessica Hawkins said that the report delivers a damning blow to the public sector IT supplier community.
"Whatever the outcome of many of these projects, vendors have not always been held accountable because there has typically been a culture that bypasses responsibility and neither vendor or agency succeeds in taking full ownership of the project to ensure that it is delivered in the most timely and cost-efficient way," she added.
"What the report fails to highlight is that many suppliers to the public sector also deliver to the private sector in a relatively pain-free manner, so there are clearly lessons that the public sector needs to learn."
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