Year 2000 – Minister fails on costings

‘Millennium bomb minister’ David Clark was criticised in parliament on Monday for failing to provide accurate cost estimates for fixing public-sector computer systems.

In his quarterly report on millennium compliance, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said estimated costs for central government systems had risen from #393m to #402m. Nobody knows what the total cost for the public sector would be, he said, but the prime minister’s recent estimate of up to #3bn ‘was probably as good a guess as any’.

Shadow trade and industry minister John Redwood and former science and technology minister Ian Taylor led the Conservative attack. ‘A failure to provide a ballpark figure would imply no proper audit of the problem has been carried out by some of the decentralised public services,’ said Taylor.

Next week, the Audit Commission will report on estimates drawn from auditors nationwide. While the National Audit Office recently estimated the NHS’s year-2000 costs to be #200m to #250m, Clark indicated the Audit Commission estimate could run as high as #850m.

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