UK Liberty

Openness and accountability

Posted in accountability, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on February 22, 2008

Computer Weekly:

John Pattison was put under pressure to act quickly after he joined Tony Blair, Cabinet ministers, policy advisers and IT suppliers in a meeting at Downing Street on 18 February 2002. The meeting gave birth to what became the world’s biggest civil IT programme.

Pattison was the Department of Health’s headquarters director of research, analysis and information. After the meeting, he was asked to produce an implementation plan for what became the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT). He was also asked by the end of May 2002 to report on the programme’s standards, specifications and governance proposals. Only a month later the NPfIT was formally announced.

Downing Street papers released to Computer Weekly last week, after a three-year campaign, show why it was such a rush. Blair had asked repeatedly for the programme’s three-year timetable to be brought forward.

The article goes on to explain why the Government fought to keep the information out of the public domain. I would love to say it is an extraordinary tale, but unfortunately it seems quite ordinary.

I say that because poorly thought out and rushed proposals seem all too common, and it is no surprise that there is a lot of money flowing down the IT drain in order to make it look like the party in Government is doing something worthwhile – in other words, money for votes.

Real freedom of information would help to address this, which is why we won’t ever have it.

See also Tony Collins’ blog.

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