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Government IT should be "part of the election debate"

David Chassels is a former Director of 3i Corporate Finance in Scotland, and a former partner at BDO. He’s now CEO of software house Procession, based at Chesham, Buckinghamshire.

He writes to me that the problem of big government IT failures “is a good second place to the financial market regulation failings and deserves to be part of the election debate”.

His comments reflect the frustrations of many CEOs of SME software companies that try to sell to government:

He says:  

“The fact that UK Government IT is a disaster area is not in doubt.

“The recent File on 4 02/03/2010 program and your contribution was chilling and frankly at national scandal level. The question is why?


“After some eight years of trying to get Government to listen to ournew message, I believe I understand it is systemic that Government havebecome the dumb buyer.   

“OGC used to have a research unitbut under a cost saving exercise it was shut down. I happened to visitthen in Norwich in 2002 as it was closing and in some frustration atOGC we were referred to the then e-envoy office as they no longer couldlook at new technologies.

“The then new e-envoy’s office andnow the CIO’s office showed no interest in something new and certainlyhad no capacity to investigate then or now. 

“It was suggested since then on a number of occasions that we work with the Catalist suppliers but again they had no mechanism in place to look at innovation and why should they?

“Inthe past two years I intensified my efforts with both suppliers andvarious Government departments that support innovation with littlesuccess.

“Accessing the CIOs in government operationaldepartments is virtually impossible as they are protected bygatekeepers to block such cold calls and fail to reply.

“Plenty of sympathy to the problem but no-one is taking responsibility. What I have discovered as fact, confirmed in writing, is

1.    Government have had no recognised mechanism to adopt innovative cost saving technologies in their contracts

2.    Government have no central resource tasked to understand software application development

3.   Government official line is that they leave it to the prime contractorsto adopt best value for money for the tax payer. Yes, they reallybelieve that?

“So there you have it: one big error of judgmentin 2002 by the Treasury left UK plc exposed to being exploited as thedumb buyer and your comment “Give us what you think we need, then send us the invoice” is where we are and must quickly address.

“ThisIT scandal is a good second place to the Financial Market regulationfailings and deserves to be part of the election debate.”

Links:

The IT failures blame game (part 1)  – Michael Krigsman

David Chassel’s company – Procession software  

A few big IT suppliers may have Tories over a barrel – IT Projects Blog

Labour MP: blacklist some IT suppliers – IT Projects Blog

Watmore [ex Govt CIO] tells MPs why so many big Govt projects fail – IT Projects Blog

Labour’s unlucky 13 IT projects – IT Projects Blog

All US government projects under review – IEEE Spectrum

Dilbert and failed IT projects – Cloud ave

 

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