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Another big government computer programme, another damning report

By Henry W W Potts, on 1 February 2011

The Commons Public Accounts Committee released today a damning report of HM Revenue and Customs’ new National Insurance and PAYE Service (NPS) system. It describes huge backlogs and budget over-runs. The story is all too familiar, as Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Committee, acknowledged. Implementation proves slower than expected, problems with data quality… all of which we’ve heard before with Connecting for Health.

So, what can the government do in future? Hodge suggests better training for civil servants and more job stability so that someone is in charge and takes responsibility. In CHIME, we’ve published before on the dangers of techno-utopianism and the need to recognise the difficulties in implementation. After so many examples, there should be no excuse for a government department going into a big IT contract with its eyes shut to the challenges ahead.

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