Significant weaknesses have been found in the management of three public sector IT projects costing more than £130 million in total, public spending watchdogs have said.
Audit Scotland examined the information and communication technology (ICT) programmes, which were either delayed, cancelled or hit by rising costs. Auditor General for Scotland Caroline Gardner said their report revealed "significant weaknesses in how they were planned, managed and overseen".
The projects examined involved the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), Registers of Scotland - the body responsible for compiling and maintaining registers relating to property and other legal documents - and Disclosure Scotland, which provides information about the criminal record of those applying for certain jobs.
A total of £133.3 million has been spent on the three projects so far but Audit Scotland said the business cases for these were of "variable quality".
The public spending watchdog also highlighted "weaknesses in financial control and progress reporting", claimed that "risk management was inadequate" and the findings of independent reviews were "not always acted on".
Audit Scotland went on to state there was a "failure to appreciate the complexity of the programmes" and that the organisations concerned did not have sufficient specialist knowledge.
The report said: "A key factor in the failure to deliver the programmes as intended was the public sector bodies' lack of specialist skills and experience. This contributed to a lack of understanding about the complexity of the programmes and an over-reliance on the supplier for key decisions affecting the design and implementation of the necessary technology."
Registers of Scotland paid out £112 million after it reached an agreement with BT in 2004 for ongoing ICT provision and work to update its IT systems, even though the original cost was estimated to be £66 million. It has now given notice to terminate the contract 20 months early.
Disclosure Scotland has spent £19 million on its Protecting Vulnerable Groups programme, which included a new ICT system to check and issue disclosure certificates. But the report said the programme "experienced a number of significant problems" when it was first introduced and is now expected to be delivered 18 months later than planned.
Meanwhile, the COPFS spent £2.3 million on a new programme to improve its case management system. This was expected to cost £10 million in total, but the project was cancelled in November 2010 because of increased costs and a reduction in the organisation's capital budget.