Having worked at 3 large organisations and implemented systems for public sector clients that range from adding an extra module to f*cking enormous systems (whereby I can honestly say it is the world's largest ...) I can shed no light on this latest fiasco.
What I can say is that, in the wordsof the Sex Pisols, no one is innocent.
I'm sure the IT vendors take advantage, just a pity none of those ill-gotten gains trickle down to us folk who actually work bloody hard. But the public sector is just as culpable. The reason that 3rd party vendors get involved was so governments could shift the money from operating costs to capital costs. MAde it look like they were investing in the public sector while driving costs down. It was also in an attempt (only partally successful) to replace a multitude of bespoke systems with COTS packages, which in theory is cheaper to support.
One of the comments hit the nail on the head, they get what they ask for, not what they need. Giving them what they need can be problematic. In one memorable, but ultimately doomed, project I spent many a happy meeting discussing the word "or" in a requrement that not only gave us their requirement but aso a couple of alternative solutions. So not only was I forced to use their solution as specified, I had the argument that went "But when we say OR we mean we want both" which technically couldn't be done. In the end I was allowed to give them just the one solution but at the cost of my contact feeling as if he'd somehow lost.
My last project (the world's largest ...) never seems to hit the headlines any more. It was big and it was (almost certainly) expensive but ...
... it works! Trust me, if it didn't it would on the front page of thenational dailies not just the computer press. So they are not all didaster stories.
I'll leave you with a story that might help to explain why it's always the same old vendors "ripping off" the taxpayer. And it's funny how ripping off the public sector can still mean that we make a loss on the deal!
A previous employer was one of only three organisations to tender for a large PFI deal. We asked teh question "What would happen if we were the only bidders?" to which the reply was an aloof, "Don't be silly!". As more detail became available both of the other companies had withdrawn. We stayed the course, implemented and outsourced, and it was all a great success. The initial 7 year deal was extended and at the end of that extension, the staff we outsourced were taken back by their original employers and hee we are 15 years later and the client is STILL using the (upgraded) systems we implemented. As I said, not always a disaster