Committee presents report on failures of government ICT projects

On Wednesday 13 October, the Temporary Committee on Government ICT Projects presented its final report on failures of government ICT projects. These failures have led to an unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ money.

MP Ton Elias with Speaker Anouchka van Miltenburg

The Committee examined a number of projects, primarily in an attempt to find a common factor or pattern of mistakes from which lessons can be learned to prevent such failures being repeated in the future. The problem as a whole is intractable and will never be brought fully under control. Nevertheless, the committee feels that a few robust organizational measures – provided they are implemented consistently and coherently – will be sufficient to prevent a repeat of a large proportion of the problems identified. The Committee’s recommendations are closely interrelated and should be viewed as a total package of measures for the Cabinet to adopt.

Critical of the House itself

Much will be gained simply by involving not only ICT specialists in government projects of this kind, but also users and those responsible for monitoring government spending. On this point the Committee is strongly critical of the House of Representatives itself, as up until now it has not made sufficient efforts to scrutinize public expenditure in this area.

If only some of the recommendations in this report are implemented and others ignored, the Committee foresees a repeat of the mistakes of the past. The fundamental problems will still not have been solved. Instead, the government will continue to “muddle along” and yet more taxpayers’ money will be wasted. For the Committee, that would be a real lost opportunity – and not the first of its kind.

Between July 2012 and October 2014, the House of Representatives of the Netherlands conducted an investigation into the failure of a series of central government information and communication technology (ICT) projects. For the investigation, the House of Representatives appointed a Temporary Committee on Government ICT Projects. This first engaged an external research agency, Policy Research Corporation BV, to carry out two investigations of its own. Then, in the spring of 2014, the Committee held public hearings with 32 witnesses, all with wide experience of government ICT projects from different perspectives.

Conclusions and recommendations

Read the conclusions and recommendations below.