Four IT project certainties - whatever the government

The Taxpayers’ Alliance claims that IT projects have contributed about £11bn to a total overspend of £19bn on government projects.

Will it be any different under the Tories?

One answer is that there are at least four certainties in the life of any UK or US government:

1) Over-optimism

2) A willingness to believe inspirational thought-leaders in the private sector who say that, yes, complexity in government can be simplified with technology (as opposed to changing the way things are done)

3) An insistence by ruling politicians and senior civil servants that what seems to be an IT-based disaster is, in fact, a success

4) What can be covered up will be


In short nothing is likely to change under the Tories.

[There will also be countless project successes but they will probably be smaller scale and overshadowed by lumbering giants which will, by force of Nature, head towards cliff edges].

PS:  Privacyint has tweeted an important 5th:

 – Knowledgeable critics will be dismissed as Luddites


More than half of £19bn overspend on government projects due to IT projects –

IT projects among the Government’s worst failures – Information Age

Out of control: how the government overspends on capital projects – Taxpayers’ Alliance 

18 truths: the long fail of complexity – Michael Krigsman

IT and its role in project failures – Arun Gupta

Reflections on project failure – Peter Salmon 

A recipe for ERP failure

Simple architectures for complex enterprises – Roger Sessions

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Spot on. If you want to read an excellent review of worldwide failures in government IT then try and find a copy of the article: Pessimism, Computer Failure, and Information Systems Development in the Public Sector by Shaun Goldfinch in the journal Public Administration Review Sept/Oct 2007. Its not just the British Labour party thats guilty it sweeps across continents and political persuasions.

A good point. I'm always amazed when I read reports of the GAO (United States General Accountability Office, equivalent to our National Audit Office) of the trouble it has getting the US public sector to tell the truth about its IT projects. As you say it's not just a UK problem.

I can't believe that in his introduction Goldfinch quotes Collins & Bicknell, (1997). What on earth was the man thinking!

Thanks for the link Darrel i'll certainly be reading this over the weekend.

There's a book that has much to recommend it.