The government has overspent on IT projects by more than £1bn over the last five years, the Liberal Democrats have claimed.
Figures obtained from a strong of parliamentary questions submitted by Lib Dem environment spokesperson, Chris Huhne MP show an average overspend of 11.4% of budgets across all central government departments.
The Ministry of Defence has the highest overspend, at £785m or 14% of its budget, while the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has the highest proportional overspend, overshooting its budget by 46.3% or £62.4m.
But the Department of Work and Pensions – which is aiming to provide shared back-office services for other central government departments – has kept to its budget, with no overspending recorded for the past five years.
Huhne said: “The government must get a grip on its finances. Government IT projects have long been the laughing stock of the private sector but this billion pound overspend is beyond a joke.”
It was “no surprise that Defra tops the league table of waste”, Huhne said. He linked the department’s poor spending performance to the failure of the Rural Payments Agency’s IT project to implement the Single Payments Scheme for farmers – a fiasco that cost Defra hundreds of millions of pounds.
“With the department facing an EU fine of £300m for its farm payment fiasco, Defra’s finances are fast approaching a shambles,” he said.
The total overspend across 12 departments was £1.04bn.