Proof that £13bn NPfIT was supposed to cost £5bn

Now that the central spend on the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT] has officially exceeded £5bn – even without local and some other costs – Computer Weekly is publishing here for the first time a Government document which put the total lifecycle cost of the national programme at £5bn in 2002.

The Office of Government Commerce’s 4-page Project Profile Model was expunged from the published version of Delivering 21st Century IT Support for the NHS, a Department of Health document which marked the launch of the NPfIT.

Project Profile Models, which have been superseded by OGC Risk Potential Assessments, were used by senior responsible owners to assess the risks of their projects.

The senior responsible owner attrubuted a score to different project characteristics including size, complexity, novelty, business criticality, political sensitivity and cost. The Project Profile Model on NPfIT gave a score of 53 out of a possible 72. Any score over 40 put a project into the “high risk” category.

This is the Project Profile Model for the NHS national IT programme which was removed from Delivering 21st Century IT Support for the NHS.

Page 1 – Project Profile Model – NHS IT programme

Page 2 – Project Profile Model

Page 3 – Project Profile Model

Page 4 – Project Profile Model


Delivering 21st IT Support for the NHS – official version

Private Eye Special Report on the NPfIT – IT Projects blog

Guilty Until Proved Innocent  

DH ICT spend

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I recall making a presentation (at Intellect) in 2003 that included a slide showing an expected cost of £5bn. I was taken severely to task by someone from NPfIT (then the name of the organisation as well as the project) for providing inaccurate and alarmist information. He insisted that the slide be amended to show the "true" cost of £2.3bn. That was the cost as originally indicated in 2002 & I'd increased it as I heard (privately I think) that the real cost was likely to be £5bn.

The Department of Health and the Government did indeed spin a line to Parliament in 2002 that the NPfIT was to cost a "total" of £2.3bn.

But privately the Government put the total lifetime cost at £5bn(as the Project Profile Model documents in this blog post show). The DH went to great lengths to conceal the NPfIT Project Profile Model.

As Peter Oborne said in a Spectator article, published on 7 March 2009: "The lack of respect for fact has led to an entirely new kind of politics... we have abandoned the idea that there is an independent reality which is out there and subject to independent verification and have adopted instead a new political epistemology.

"The emphasis of argument has moved from truths that can be proven to narratives that can be constructed."

A narrative was constructed in 2002 around the NPfIT - and it's being spun today.