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Tuesday, October 06, 2015


Original Story:

More than a third of major IT projects in the Netherlands never see the light of day, costing the government up to €5 billion a year, according to a highly critical report by a Parliamentary inquiry.

A commission headed by Liberal (VVD) MP Ton Elias, called for an independent regulator to be set up so that IT specialists can monitor the progress of large-scale projects. An Amsterdam IT lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Projects often failed because those commissioning them lacked the technological knowledge, said Elias. “Things go wrong on every level and at every stage.

“It is one great unsightly mass, with no clear objectives, direction or cost control.” He noted that the lost money “could have been spent on healthcare or defence”.

Elias’s panel looked at a range of IT projects, including the OV chipcard used to pay for public transport and the A73 motorway tunnels. An Amsterdam IT attorney is following this story closely.

It found that 36 per cent of large projects – those with a budget of €7.5 million or more – were aborted before they were put into service. More than half (57%) either went over time or over budget, or did not meet expectations. Just 7% were judged to be successful.

Elias also said Parliament was failing in its duty to oversee projects funded by the public purse.

He said lack of interest and expertise by MPs meant they were not scrutinising the process properly. “Moreover, the provision of information to Parliament by the cabinet is frequently insufficient,” he said.

The commission’s work was hampered by problems obtaining the relevant information from ministers, according to Elias, who urged MPs to be more stringent. “Parliament needs to use its powers and take its scrutiny role seriously.”

The commission recommended that all projects costing more than €5 million be scrutinised by the Office for IT Testing (Bureau ICT Toetsing), which would measure their progress against 10 basic standards.

“The experts would act as a gatekeeper for IT projects. In addition it would drive it into the heads of IT departments that things could, and should, be done differently,” Elias said.