Assembly's IT Desk Costs Pounds 6,000 a Call; Pounds 64.4m Computer Bill Is 40pc above Budget
Byline: Tom Bodden
AN out-of-hours computer helpdesk for Assembly Members is so under-used it costs tax-payers pounds 6,000 per call.
Finance watchdogs will today reveal the total seven-year bill for information technology at the Assembly soared to pounds 64.4m - almost 40pc more than expected.
The spiralling bill is blamed on a failure by officials to negotiate a share of the risk caused by a rising number of people using the system.
A discount of just 10pc on user numbers above 3,500 would have made savings of pounds 340,000 over the life of the contract, according to a report by the National Audit Office.
Despite the expense, AMs were generally damning about the system in a survey by auditors.
One said: ``Constituency office service is diabolical . . . half the time my office effectively has no information technology as my staff and I cannot log on to our computers.''
Another said: ``I find working in the constituency office almost impossible.''
But those problems were blamed on the relatively poor IT infrastructure in Wales, rather than the contract itself.
About 4,000 people used the Osiris system, 41pc above the level anticipated by officials during the renegotiation of the contract with Siemens Business Services in 1999.
``Delivery of the additional services in time for the transfer of functions to the Assembly was essential, and represented a significant achievement,'' the report says.
This along with the cost of terminating the existing contract left the Assembly in a ``very difficult negotiating position''. …