Pouring “money down a rat-hole”

The NI Audit office has issued a report on the cost of developing a new computerised payroll system for the civil service here. A system 10 years in development at a cost of £3.3million.. and scrapped before it ever produced a single payslip.The cost to tax-payers of almost £10million is broken down as £3.3million in the cost of devloping the new system and £6.1million of savings that were supposed to be made, but never were.

Particular failings are pointed out in the Audit Office press release

Although economic appraisals were carried out by the Project Manager in 1995, 1997 and 1999, the Audit Office considers that an independent appraisal would have provided an opportunity for a fundamental examination of the objectives of the project and might have helped to ensure that better decisions were made as to the way forward.

and

The interdepartmental committee of senior civil servants responsible for overseeing the project was too far removed to operate effectively as a Steering Group and, as a result, it failed to provide effective strategic management of the payroll project

But perhaps the most damning example of incompetent bureaucracy at the heart of the civil service is contained in this line of the report –

During the 13 years of the project, nine different individuals held the chairmanship of the main decision-making and monitoring body.

And, after all the time and money spent on developing this new payroll system, they’re still using a computerised system introduced in 1986 – that should have been “scrapped 10 years ago.”

Now I would have thought that at least one resignation was in order. But given the number of individuals who were placed in the chairmanship of the monitoring body throughout that time I think it’s unlikely that any one of them will be singled out – how convenient.

The full Audit Office report is available online here