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MSPs call for more accountability in IT projects



Holyrood committee tells Scottish Government it should produce six-month updates on big initiatives

A group of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) have said the Scottish Government needs to establish a firmer accountability for major IT projects.

The Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee has said that a number of initiatives have run into serious problems partly because of confusion over who is ultimately responsible for their delivery.

This follows the committee’s enquiry on the issue and the publication earlier in the year by Audit Scotland of a report on lessons learned from major projects.

Acting convenor of the committee, Jackie Baillie MSP, said: “The recent string of IT failures clearly demonstrates that there is a significant problem for the Scottish Government and other public bodies to address.

“With this in mind, the Scottish Government must be clear about who is ultimately accountable for the delivery of IT projects.

“It is essential that the Scottish Government’s next digital initiatives are successful, as the loss to the public purse and loss of public confidence has been substantial. That’s why our committee has written to the Scottish Government to outline our concerns and request updates on major IT projects in the future.”

Ongoing concerns

In a letter to the director of digital for the Scottish Government, the committee said it also has concerns over which public bodies are covered by initiatives such as the new Assurance Framework and Central Government Digital Transformation Service.

It asked for six-month updates on the progress of IT projects, including when there have been warnings that they should stop, along with trends on IT vacancy levels and further information on costs.

In the past five years the Scottish public sector has spent about £4 billion on IT. This has included projects that hit serious difficulties and cost overruns.

NHS 24 for telehealth and telecare was severely delayed due to governance failures; the i6 programme for a national police IT system broke down in 2016; and CAP Futures failed to deliver EU agricultural payments in line with its schedule before it was abandoned.

Image: Scottish Parliament by Klaus with K, CC BY-SA 3.0



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