Executive agency concealed decision to abandon BSE computer system
Thursday 03 February 1994
The disclosure comes a week after the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, the watchdog of public expenditure, demanded that government departments stop concealing their errors.
The PAC has taken a special interest in failed computer projects after a series of huge losses - including one at Wessex Regional Health Authority which wasted as much as pounds 63m.
The Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL), part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, secretly abandoned a computer system designed to integrate results of tests on animal blood and organs two years ago. The computer was part of an initiative aimed at improving the CVL's efficiency at monitoring the spread of diseases including Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and salmonella.
Without an integated computer system, CVL officials admit they may sometimes lose specimens or be slow in collating results. The development of the pounds 1.2m system in 1990 was approved by the Treasury. But after a year, the project was abandoned because it was unworkable.
Following an investigation by the trade magazine Computer Weekly, which is published today, the CVL admitted that it had 'lost a lot in terms of time, costs and benefits'. An executive said: 'We were dealing in a completely new area. The suppliers, ourselves and the CCTA (the agency supposed to vet government computer contracts) have made mistakes.'
The decision to scrap the project was not made public and the CVL's annual accounts make no mention of it. The accounts detail the work of the computer department but omit this expense, which was more than the entire annual operating surplus of the CVL itself. Its omission from the budget means that neither the Auditor-General nor the PAC has been made aware of the loss.
Managers refuse to comment on the full extent of the losses, claiming that they are bound to secrecy under the terms of a legal settlement with the computer supplier.
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Yorkshire man to win £10,000 off a £1 bet placed six years ago if Dan Jarvis becomes Labour Party leader
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 4 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 5 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Children take eight Isis captives to be beheaded in latest propaganda video
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...