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Public sector IT failures

Despite Britain's poor track record with big public sector IT schemes, much of Labour's programme depends on them—from NHS reform to ID cards. What accounts for the high rate of failure? Has the government learnt from past mistakes?

By Michael Cross   October 2005

Plans for reforming public services over the next few years depend on a large number of gigantic new information technology systems. Every four months, Tony Blair receives a progress report on current IT projects judged to be “mission critical.” The mission critical list is secret, but is believed to contain more than 20 projects, covering everything from council tax reform to the 2012 Olympics. The government already spends £14bn a year on computer systems and services, the highest figure in Europe and double the sum spent in 1999. The public sector accounts for 55 per cent of the whole UK…

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