Time, the great concealer

The general media has a limited appetite for the disclosure of "historic" information. Computer Weekly has been registering evidence that the UK government is becoming evermore skilful in playing on that lassitude and laziness.

The general media has a limited appetite for the disclosure of "historic" information. Computer Weekly has been registering evidence that the UK government is becoming evermore skilful in playing on that lassitude and laziness.

The strategy, it appears, is to first reject awkward Freedom of Information requests around risky IT projects. Then, when the Information Commissioner's Office rules against such rejections, appeal to the Information Tribunal, and continue appealing, all the way to the High Court.

By the time unwelcome information emerges blinking into the light, the press pack has gone home.

But not Computer Weekly.

The information commissioner has ordered the release of "sensitive" papers from an historic meeting at Downing Street in February 2002, at which the NHS's National Programme for IT was given the go-ahead.

Tony Blair was at that meeting. Was he convinced that this centralist programme would be a simpler matter to implement than turned out to be the case? Did he fully comprehend the risks? Was the NHS represented as being in the IT Dark Ages, in need of root and branch revolution?

Computer Weekly made a Freedom of Information request in January 2005 for details of this 2002 summit. We've been waiting.

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