Taxpayers pay up to 10 times more than needed for government IT projects

By Derek du Preez
06 Sep 2011 View Comments
House of Parliament

Taxpayers are paying up to 10 times more than is necessary for government IT projects, according to Andy de Vale, co-founder of the Agile Delivery Network (ADN).

The ADN is a not-for-profit organisation, made up of a group of SMEs, that aims to act as a single interface for when the government is looking to use smaller businesses to deploy applications that can be delivered using agile development.

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"I'm consistently horrified by the money we waste on government IT. IT delivery in the UK government is broken, and the current supplier model just doesn't work. The ADN has been set up to tackle the gross waste in the way things are done, and to shake off the pervasive view that it's just how things are," said de Vale.

"I have worked as an IT consultant in central government for seven years. In my previous roles I worked across multiple departments, which gave me a view of how the government spends its money," he added.

"In my experience, it is standard for the taxpayer to be paying between two and 10 times what is a reasonable amount of money for IT projects."

De Vale hopes the ADN will prompt the government to use SMEs on more IT projects, as it reduces the risk of dealing with one small organisation.

"What is quite unique about us is the concept of company collaboration. We strive to give government a single contractual interface, but we also have a large array of skilled SMEs," explained de Vale.

"We would have multiple SMEs collaborating on any one project, which should mitigate any concern the government has about a small company going under as the risk is spread across multiple vendors," he added.

"This method is also more realistic for SMEs, as it is now unlikely, when working as a group, that they will be swamped by a big government project."

The ADN recently provided suppliers for the government's new e-petitions website, which was developed in less than six weeks.

De Vale points to the ability to make changes easily and quickly as one of the success stories for the e-petitions site and for government using agile development. For example, when the e-petitions site launched, traffic was significantly higher than expected and ADN was able to quickly scale up to 1,000 concurrent sessions per minute.

"The amount of traffic on the e-petition site now has to be able to deal with the amount of traffic you would expect on the Direct.gov website, which has the highest amount of traffic of any government website," said de Vale.

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