The government is as guilty as its technology partners for exaggerating its targets, says Simon Moores
The government recently warned the IT industry that "lies" and "exorbitant and unsubstantiated claims" by suppliers are jeopardising the future of public-private partnerships.
It was Peter Gershon, chief executive of the Office of Government Commerce, who told suppliers to "get their act together" and recognise the need to deliver success and value for money, adding that "there is little evidence that the IT industry has an understanding of what is needed to make these partnerships work".
Mr Gershon complained that every day he was faced by suppliers who make exorbitant and unsubstantiated claims. E-envoy Andrew Pinder argued, "Some projects have failed because suppliers have lied about their capability and promised things they cannot deliver.”
The government then appeared to suggest that the IT industry is selling "snake oil", and that when large public sector projects fail or run wildly over budget which, of course half of them do, any blame should lie squarely at the feet of IT and not with a long tradition of failure among senior management in many central government departments.
When you mix the unprincipled and the allegedly incompetent, then the results are not totally unexpected.
The reality is that the government is depending on IT to deliver the reforms that the public sector so badly needs, but the problem is that the government is as guilty of exaggeration as any of its technology partners.
Government has mandated that a number of steps will have been completed by 2005, but it can’t be sure that the technology it is buying into will guarantee the success it requires for political purposes.
As a result, everyone starts making "promises" and these targets become "aspirational", while you sit there wondering how anyone in the government can keep a straight face when accusing anyone else of making “exorbitant and unsubstantiated claims”.
Surely, it’s what the government in this country does best?
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Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of leading industry analyst Dr Simon Moores of Zentelligence.
Acting globally, Zentelligence (Research) advises governments, suppliers, business and the media on the evolution, application and delivery of leading-edge technologies and specialises in the areas of eGovernment and information security.
For further information on Zentelligence and its research, presentation and analyst services visit www.zentelligence.com
This was first published in May 2003