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Gov departments still splashing BILLIONS on big-ticket IT projects

Mad Frankie Maude's one-time Cabinet Office axemen fling cash around like confetti

Big Whitehall departments got the green light to splash more than a billion pounds on IT projects last year, data analysis by The Register can reveal.

A total of £1.4bn was handed out to the six largest government departments according to their spend exemption data, which is made available as part of the government's commitment to publish all spending over £25,000.

The money was in addition to the cost of running IT, with the same six spending £2.3bn just to keep the screens on in 2013/14.

Since 2010 all spending above £5m has to go through the Cabinet Office for approval.

The most expensive project to get the go ahead was a £257m seven-year ERP shared services programme for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). This was for the department to join the Cabinet Office's outsourced shared services centre from November 2014.

It followed an embarrassing £56m IT write-off of the MoJ's own shared services programme last year. The cost of the new programme also includes extensions and upgrades to MoJ IT systems and Oracle licences.

The Department for Work and Pensions was given approval for £365m worth of projects. Yet the DWP also has one of the poorest records for IT write-offs since the spending approvals were introduced.

The DWP may have to can all but £34m in IT of nearly £700m spent on its disastrous Universal Credit project, according to government spending watchdog the National Audit Office.

The NAO has also said the Cabinet Office's Government Digital Service saved £91m in 2013/14 via the spend controls. This was less than the department had initially claimed.

In the last 12 months the government wasted more than £100m on failed or cancelled IT projects, according to the Tax Payers' Alliance last month.

The other departments included in El Reg's research were HMRC, the Department for Transport, the Home Office, and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. ®

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