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Hated scheme now 'unachievable', howls watchdog

Project is one of four so bad it's easier to flush the money down the toiilet

The hated programme is one of four government IT projects progressing so poorly its delivery has been deemed "unachievable", according to a government watchdog report.

The scheme has been flagged with the highest "red" risk rating by the Major Projects Authority, along with the NHS choices website, the Health and Social Care Network, and the Ministry of Justice's National Offender Management Services ICT programme.

The scheme has encountered serious delays, following an outcry from the public who largely objected to the idea of their personal information being shared with world+dog without their consent.

So far, 700,000 individuals have requested to opt out of having their data shared with third parties. However, concerns have been raised that the Health and Social Care Information Centre has been unable to implement those objections.

So far, £5m has been spent on the preparation of the programme's pathfinder projects due to restart later this year, according to a Freedom of Information response.

The report, by the Major Projects Authority, said the programme had been rated red as it needs to "clarify, agree and communicate the programme scope; appoint a full-time Senior Responsible Owner; reconstitute the Programme Board with a clear role and responsibilities; approve explicit go/no go criteria; agree and clarify finances; assign owners to key risks; and recruit key personnel."

The definition of a "red" rating states: "Successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable. There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable."

According to the MPA, the Department for Health splashed £177.46m on its network project, and the total cost came to £748.16m, while the MoJ spent £89.4m on its NOMS IT system, which will cost £248.82m. No figures were provided for the NHS Choices website.

The MoJ said the cost of its project is likely to increase as the rollout was paused between August and December 2014, "whilst significant performance issues were investigated and corrected". ®

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