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Accountability fundamentally undermines the government

04 May 2007 - JG

A friend of mine wrote me an email yesterday saying that every time he reads a story on Picking Losers about the NHS it puts him in a bad mood. I promised him I would try and post a positive one as soon as I can. Well, here goes...

A high court ruling yesterday has stated that reviews of Government IT projects that track progress and problems should be made public. This would include the shambolic £12bn NHS upgrade system and all the other disastrous IT projects that have drained money out of the NHS and other areas of government. Unfortunately, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) does not feel that this would be a good idea, surprisingly. They claim that letting the people who pay for these projects (you and me) know what is actually going on would "-fundamentally undermine-" the process and defeat its objective. How can open government fundamentally undermine what is going on? It is an IT project for goodness sake! The only thing it would fundamentally undermine is the complete incompetence of this government to get an IT project right and it might even fundamentally undermine a few of these peoples' jobs with any luck.

So, it looks like we might have a more open government who can't hide behind their official spokesmen spouting half truths when we want to really know what is going on. It might even be an incentive to get things right - it's a little thing called accountability (though, as the OGC points out, accountability might undermine the government's ability to hide the truth from the electorate). It may even, with some luck, highlight the failings of projects before we invest billions on them - like ID cards maybe... So, a good news story - more government accountability and a victory in the High Court from freedom of information... The OGC do have 14 days to appeal though (sorry James).

Topics: Health

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