Welcome to the Public Works blog.

Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk. For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Another Year Another Massive IT System Overspend.

The new NHS 24 IT system is now £41.6m over budget and far from complete. The Public Audit Committee (of the Scottish Parliament) is unsurprisingly conducting a review of how this has happened. The former Chief Executive told MSPs that he felt let down by a senior colleague that “didn’t advise him at all". He is also claiming that he was not told of a fundamental flaw in the system for 22 months and that junior staff were aware of omissions in the contract but didn’t let him know.

This leaves 2 questions

Why didn’t staff feel able to inform senior staff of problems in a system?
Why do Chief Executives sign contacts that they have not checked with relevant staff?

Paul Martin MSP pointed out that the overspend would have paid for 1900 nurses.

Sadly this is not a one-off problem. Again and again we see sales pitches from IT companies treated as impartial advice and the knowledge and skills of in-house IT staff ignored.

Cornwall has now terminated its contract with BT Cornwall (BTC) after BTC attempts to get a high court injunction failed. ICT and other so-called backroom services have now formally transferred back to the council. Negotiations continue over the level of damages the council hopes to get following the failures which led to the termination of the contract. The council believes that they are owed millions of pounds in damages.

Publictechnology.Net is reporting that the UK cabinet office is launching yet another review of government IT contracts with the understatement that “a series of contracts have not stood the test of time". It is believed that the option of bringing IT expertise back in house is seriously under consideration. Not before time.

UNISON’s recent survey of members working in ICT is available here.

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