16. srpna 2016 | News

Šetří vláda na IT?

In 2014, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka described the IT situation at the government ministries as the main skeleton in the cupboard of his new cabinet. Information systems are an easy channel for stripping the public funds of billions of crowns. The previous governments were acutely aware of this fact. The Anticorruption Endowment (NFPK) has compared the IT spending figures of the past and present governments.      

The new prime minister said at the time (here): “It is evident that the government will in future pay more attention also to coordinating its anticorruption policies in the IT field so it saves taxpayer money.” The Anticorruption Endowment (NFPK) has obtained data on the IT spending of selected ministries in the period from 2010 to 2015, which gave us an answer to whether the Sobotka cabinet has lived to its promises. Considerable volumes of IT-related spending data are presented also in the budgetary chapters where they can be easily concealed as miscellaneous expenses. Thus in the “purchase of other services” column, the 2013 IT spending figures amounted to almost 1.2 billion crowns in case of the Ministry of Finance, and almost one billion crowns in case of the Ministry of Social and Labour Affairs. In 2013, the Ministry of Finance spent more than 121 million crowns on “rents” alone, while in the same year the Ministry of Agriculture spent almost 147 million crowns of its IT budget for “legal, advisory and consulting services”. An IT spending of this size could buy a battle tank!

The NFPK has summed up the IT spending in eight budget chapters of several government ministries in 2010-2015 (see Attachment). Taking into account the total number of employees of the respective ministries, we have established the average IT spending per employee in 2010-2015 and separately for the term of the incumbent government (2014 and 2015). The comparison of these average figures goes to show that the biggest IT savings against the past were achieved at the Foreign and Finance ministries (whose average IT spending per employee amounted to 80 and 81 percent respectively of the past-period average), followed by Defence (98 percent) and Transport (99 percent). Virtually the same amount of spending as in the past (100 percent) was reported by Agriculture and Industry and Trade, followed by Education, Youth and Sport (103 percent), Environment (106 percent), Culture (112 percent), Health (123 percent), and Labour and Social Affairs (128 percent). By far the worst figures occurred in case of the Ministry for Regional Development (249 percent) and Ministry of the Interior (between 2015 and 257 percent). The outcomes from the last two ministries mentioned signal that their average IT spending per employee more than redoubled against the previous period. It could be also possible to compare the various ministries’ current average spending per employee. By far the biggest costs were reported by the Ministry for Regional Development (over one million crowns per employee), followed by Defence (CZK 406,000) and Transport (CZK 289,000), while the lowest costs were reported by the Ministry of Justice (CZK 19,000 per employee). Exceptionally high figures were surprisingly reported by the Ministry of Culture (CZK 164,000 per employee), which placed fourth (see Attachment). However, in view of the wide gaps between the IT systems operated by various ministries, such comparison would be deemed grossly “unfair”. The Regional Development and Culture IT costs are therefore all the more surprising. For the sake of comparison, the average IT costs per employee of several successful private businesses of production-operation character are somewhere between 15 and 39 thousand crowns. Only the Justice Ministry chapter fits within these limits.

Certainly worth a mention, in this respect, was the nomination in June of Sobotka’s long-time aide, Tomáš Prouza, to the post of coordinator of the Czech Republic’s digital agenda. Due to the abovementioned comparisons and other circumstances, the Anticorruption Endowment has serious doubts concerning the real purpose of nominating Mr Prouza to the said position.                  

“In addition to building contracts, IT orders are a veritable goldmine for the modern asset-stripper. If the Czech Republic built a space shuttle, it would be overpriced a hundred times and everybody would be exceedingly happy. If it didn’t take off the ground, politicos and managers wouldn’t mind it,” NFPK Analyst Martin Soukenka concludes.                    

Attachment: Ministries’ IT spending in 2010-2015 and comparisons drawn (in Czech only)

Please contact: Martin Soukenka, NFPK Analyst, martin.soukenka@nfpk.cz