DEFRA wastes £26m on IT projects

DEFRA has wasted more than £26m on failed IT projects in the past five years.

More than £12m was spent on an abandoned program to produce a database of all the department’s electronic information, while an initiative to manage licences for protected animals was scrapped after £4m was spent.

DEFRA also spent £10m on its Customer Information Programme, a database containing the contact details of farmers, food producers and other industry members.

Several other smaller projects had also been written off, according to a report by Computerworld UK.

“Although £26m sounds like a lot of money, in the scheme of government IT spending, it sounds as if DEFRA is cancelling its disasters relatively quickly,” investigative political reporter Tony Collins told Farmers Weekly.

“DEFRA has a mixed history with IT. Its central control is very good, but autonomous departments like the Rural Payments Agency can be a disaster.”

DEFRA could also face EU fines of about £300m for the mistakes made by their Rural Payments Agency in January this year.

Many farmers went unpaid when DEFRA tried to modify its computerised payment system.