Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
2/3/2009
10:43 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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England's IT Projects Face Massive Cost Overruns

Note to all candidates for the proposed federal CTO position: in the United Kingdom, eight government-run IT projects are about $35 billion over budget. The biggest failure is the electronic health-records effort, now four years late and facing cost overruns of more than $15B. Can the United States avoid a similar disaster with this vital health care initiative?

Note to all candidates for the proposed federal CTO position: in the United Kingdom, eight government-run IT projects are about $35 billion over budget. The biggest failure is the electronic health-records effort, now four years late and facing cost overruns of more than $15B. Can the United States avoid a similar disaster with this vital health care initiative?A news report this week in London's Times Online painted an ugly picture:

"Plans for new computer systems are years behind schedule and have ballooned in cost; others have been scaled back or even scrapped... .The Times studied eight of the largest Whitehall IT contracts, spanning the health service, tax collection, benefits, Armed Forces and the police. Their overall cost to the taxpayer, from original estimates given to MPs to the latest estimates available, has risen by about £18.6 billion."

Now, you might ask, how in the world can anyone spend that many billions of dollars on top of the billions in the original budget? One of the budget-busting culprits cited in The Times story about electronic health-record overruns is IT's age-old nemesis, the change order: "Fujitsu, which left the contract in May, is believed to be seeking £600 million from the Government after it was asked to change its product 650 times for no extra fee."

Here at InformationWeek's Global CIO, we're asking you in our audience -- the most knowledgeable and business-savvy IT experts in the world -- to submit your ideas for what should be on the agenda of the proposed Federal CTO. We've created a confidential wiki, called Global CIO Think Tank, in which you and your peers can share ideas that we'll ultimately present to the Obama administration. If you'd like to join, please send me an email message at bevans@techweb.com and I'll get the registration process started.

The Global CIO Think Tank offers much more beyond this initial project about helping set the federal CTO agenda, but at this point it looks like that incoming CTO will need all the help he or she can get.

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