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The Health Service Executive has formally announced the decision to abandon the Ppars computer system. The decision effectively had been made in 2005 when the chief executive decided to suspend its “roll-outâ€?.

The reasons are very clear; it was budgeted to cost €9 million but has cost €176.8 million to date.

It had been known for some time that it was a black hole for public money.

By way of spin the HSE says the “investmentâ€? in computers will remain. (Bad luck, Mr. Dell ).

Is this, as it appears, a typical case of cost overrun? (What does that mean?)

Did the HSE keep changing the specification?

Did the contract for the purchase and supply of the system provide for the allocation of liability in the event of what has happened, happening?

If it did not, why did it not?

Who drafted the terms of the contract?

Who approved the terms of the contract?

Do those individuals, if they are not part of the supplier or the HSE, have adequate professional indemnity insurance?

NOTE: nothing in this post is intended to suggest that any person or firm connected with the Ppars project has acted wrongfully and any such seeming implication is abjured.


  1. I have talked about this on the radio now and again. Basically there is no way you any contractor would give a guarantee for the success of this type of project. The project was really doomed from the start. The problems are to do with how the HSE is structured, managed and run. Every area and even every site has its own local procedures for dealing with shifts, holidays, allowances and related matters. The complexity is immense. Remember, there are over 1300 people working in HSE in Payroll alone to cope with all of this. The idea that you can buy a piece of software and a bit of consulting for a few million euro to deal with all that complexity is just wrong.

    The UK NHS dealt with some of this complexity by simplifying its pay grades and conditions as part of its collective bargaining agreement before the big computer integration job was attempted. This wasn’t done in Ireland, hence the problems.

  2. Antoin,

    Thanks for your insights. In criminal law practice, remarks of that nature are called “pleas in mitigation”; they encompass “I had a sad childhood”; “something snapped in my head” etc.Alternatively the relevant “software development contract” must have drawn heavily on the business terms of Federico da Montefeltro

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  1. By McGarr Solicitors » Surprise! on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    […] See my earlier post on the issue of large Public Procurement Contracts HERE. […]