Government IT projects complex and wasteful

Ministers have a tendency to make IT projects too complicated and too ambitious, resulting in millions of euros being wasted, the government audits office said on Thursday.

While earlier claims that up to €5bn annually is wasted are wrong, a proportion of the €500m spent by the national government on information technology every year does disappear on failed projects, the audit report said.
The national statistics office CBS puts total state apparatus spending on IT at €2.1bn a year.
The report says that the risk of a project failing is increased by the political decision-making process which leads to extra requirements from ministers and MPs being included at a later stage.
Expectations that IT will solve problems are also unrealistic, the report says. The government is also too reluctant to pull the plug on projects which are not working.
The involvement of third parties – both companies and independent organisations – is an added complication, the report said.
Christian Democrat and Socialist Party MPs immediately called for a parliamentary inquiry into the issues raised by the report, particularly the amount of money which has been wasted.
‘The audit office based its research on CBS figures, but we do not thing the CBS definition of IT spending is wide enough,’ CDA MP Jos Hessels told news agency ANP.
Home affairs minister Guusje ter Horst said she accepts the main conclusions. However, the report did not focus enough on where the real responsibility for IT projects lay, she said.

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