back to article Multi-billion pound gov tech contracts could end up in toilet - MPA

A raft of government reforms, including eight major IT projects, are at risk of failure, according to a report from the Major Projects Authority (MPA). The MPA was formed within the Cabinet Office's Efficiency & Reform Group (ERG) in 2011 to help government get a better handle on the multi-billion pound contracts handled by …


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  1. Shasta McNasty

    Same old story

    The only way to have a successful Government IT contract would be to remove the civil servants from it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same old story

      Erm, that's how PFI schemes work. So for example a town needs a new hospital, the private sector builds and manages the project and the government then takes ownership of it (with a big mortage of sorts).

      End result, all the risk and expenditure is on the books of the private company, government employees don't interfere or need to do anything and there are big penalties or charges for changes to spec while things are in motion if the government does change its mind.

      Of course PFI results in hospitals being saddled with lots of debt for decades, but the question is does this work out cheaper than a government managed project with all its cost over-runs? I'm not sure.

      1. Ommerson

        Re: Same old story

        The private sector (if they're competent, and plenty of providers haven't been) simply reflects the risk in the price tendered - hence the enormous costs involved.

      2. mhenriday

        Re: Same old story

        Actually, it's precisely the other way 'round - taxpayers build a hospital or a clinic (or school or day-care centre), a new government with privatisation as its mantra comes to power and sells it off at bargain basement prices to its friends, who after a short period, make a killing by selling it to an off-shore company. All this without any risk, as the care provided is still subsidised by the public purse. Yet another transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich....


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same old story the anatomy of the fail

      IT companies promise the world.

      The Government take the cheapest bidder.

      Politicians decide to oversee the project.

      The cheapest bidder comes cap in hand needing more money.

      Politicians give more money.

      The project gets delayed due to complexity.

      The politicians move the goal posts.

      The company needs more money.

      The politicians give more money.

      The goal posts are moved yet again.

      More demands for money.

      The project fails as out of date or not viable.

      A new general election, politicians blame the previous Government.

      We start all over again.

      1. NeilMc

        Re: Same old story the anatomy of the fail

        The projects need to be smaller and not allowed to grow to "Homer's Car" proportions (google homers car for a great picture). Yes; risks have a cost and should be reflected in the price (yes I have been on the dark side of private supply to the public sector)

        They need to be evolution not revolution; deliver something and when you do iterate rather than try and nail a solution for the next decade in the first attempt......

        The projects need to be protected from political party influence and disruption. Sadly in ages now far gone we could get consensus across Government and the political landscape to invest in the countries infrastructure and needs.

        Sadly nowadays it seems to me that celebrities like Brown, B-Liar and Cameroon are too caught up in celebrity politics and their own personal gain to care about the country they claim to represent.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Government Waste... eh?

    I've worked hard and paid my share of taxes. To see it get wasted like this is irritating. Whether its the incompetence of elected officials or behind the scenes bureaucrats, or from sleazy salesmen peddling the world. I'd happily give up time to act as an adviser. But IMHO Governments don't want free help. Instead they prefer overpriced consultants from mega-corps. The same corporations that frequently admit conflicts of interests down the road. Sorry to be cynical... At least its Friday tomorrow... eh?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Government Waste... eh?

      Yeah right and private sector projects never go wrong eh? What astounds me is that someguys who implement pissy little greenfield £2m systems with internal stakeholders only think that they're the bees knees and able to give advice to theguys delivering billion pound projects with some of the most complicated stakeholder maps, fucked up legacy design decisions and requirements that change according to the political wind.

      Delivering this stuff is HARD and needs the best people to do it. Whcihmeans switching off the salary envy.

  3. Shagbag

    Heads should roll

    Another disgrace. Another reason to avoid tax.

    1. jm83
      Thumb Down

      Re: Heads should roll

      Of course thats the reason... nothing to do with self-serving greed. Its to teach the gov't a lesson. Obviously.

  4. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Hee hee!

    5pm on a Friday says it all.

    In lingua (un)civil serventia it means that the last option is ministers don't give the report too much time and (fingers crossed) all will be ok with our colleagues facing a mere rap across the knuckles and possibly a wagging finger?

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    PFI. Our chums build it, you pay for it and we (the govt) get to keep our good credit rating.

    The typical deal for a PFI is about 3x what it would cost the govt to build itself.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bin the SSADM, Waterfall, Prince etc., that's why these projects take so freaking long!

    The government shouldn't be doing all this carp at all, they only need this to manage their bloated leeching of the economy; however while we figure out how best to detach these parasites from us, they should make it a contractual condition that the providers use regular interactive development techniques like RAD, Scrum, or Agile, with no tolerance of pass the buck meetings, and provide incremental results so that any issues are picked up early, and never contract for multi-year projects in one go, so that they can cancel bad projects before much money has been wasted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bin the SSADM, Waterfall, Prince etc., that's why these projects take so freaking long!

      But then how would their cronies make any money?

    2. billynomates

      Re: Bin the SSADM, Waterfall, Prince etc., that's why these projects take so freaking long!

      Erm. Universal Credit was developed using Agile. In fact it won several awards for it. The qiestion is whether or not Agile can cope with a huge project that's trying to compress multiple legacy platforms together.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    look at the recent merger of 'connecting for heath' and the 'information centre' - CfH is essentially a organisation full of consultants, lots of time spent in producing powerpoints and process maps with little result. you would think a merger would be a good time to clear out the dead (but expensive) wood, with redundnacies for duplicate roles, but no, lets just create an additional 4 layers of managment just to make sure people dont loose jobs!

    the mind bogles!!

    and don't get me started on the ODP / balls up!

    1. NeilMc

      Re: nhs

      Yup I was there......... initially called Patient Records and then as the shitstorm grew due to Homer's car design changes and failure to deliver frankly anything on time so...... lets re-brand and call it Connecting for Wealth.... sorry Health.

      That bought the suppliers and the Labour party at least till the 2010 general election. Then it became the Coalitions job to wield the axe after which the blame game starts with no one held to account for the cluster feck that the project became.....

      It all started with such good intentions too...........

  8. Brian Wernham

    Of course it would be easier to understand the Red/Amber/Gren report if it wern;t all in spreadsheets...

    Some help here:


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