Francis Maude has made the bold statement that the Tories will ban IT projects that cost over £100m. It looks good in the headlines. He said:
“Labour’s IT procurement process has been marked by a catalogue of failures, late deliveries and cost overruns.
“We need a freeze on signing up to yet more failed projects.”
You can read the full story in the Telegraph by following this link.
A week is clearly a long time in Tory politics.
On December 22 I blogged about the £5bn proposal by Lord Hanningfield‘s Tory administration in Essex to hand over the running of services it is unable to provide effectively itself to IBM. You can remind yourself of the story here.
Contrast the Tories’ willingness to talk tough on cash limits on IT projects at the centre (probably quite sensible knowing how badly some of them have failed), with their example in local government in Essex. Unlike other local authorities, Essex are off-loading services that they clearly believe they are no longer capable of delivering. It strikes me as a comprehensive admission of political failure to deliver. If Maude’s boast is to have any credibility, the sheer untested lunacy of Hanningfield’s project demands robust intervention from Cameron et al.
Just as irresponsible spending on projects in Whitehall needs clamping down on, so local authorities, including Tory Essex, should not receive carte blanche to experiment with innovative IT projects at vast public expense.
Headline-grabbing opportunism is one thing. Dealing with your own IT cowboys is something entirely different.