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4 September 2012 | Anna Reynolds
The Scottish Government has wasted £133 million through poor management of information and communications technology (ICT) programmes, according to Audit Scotland.
The audit body, which oversees public spending, examined three public sector programmes in its report Managing ICT contracts. It found Scotland’s public sector organisations spend around £740 million a year on ICT, but delays, cancellations or overspend on just three of these incurred £133 million in unnecessary costs.
Registers of Scotland (RoS) had a 10-year partnership with BT to streamline working practices and transform its records database. It was originally valued at £66 million but the audit discovered £112 million has been spent so far and the contract has now been cancelled.
The development of a new ICT system at Disclosure Scotland, which issues certificates to potential employers outlining criminal history information, was procured by amending an existing service contract with BT. Problems mean the system is now expected to be delivered 18 months later than planned.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) spent £2.3 million on a project that was later cancelled because the contract failed to deliver value for money.
Audit Scotland’s report identified the reasons behind the problems as poor project management and control, as well as a lack of specialised IT skills. Caroline Gardner, auditor general for Scotland, warned: “The Scottish Government needs to address these weaknesses and strengthen its strategic oversight of ICT investment to ensure the public sector delivers programmes that improve public services and provide value for money.”