E-governance flops cost taxpayers close to €8m

About €7.9m of EU funds in ministry-ordered e-governance projects have been found to be misspent, costing taxpayers millions, reported LTV's De Facto Sunday.

During the previous EU funds planning period, €137m has been spent on 63 projects aiming to improve state IT systems and e-services.

It's been found that in most projects some money has been misspent, with EU funds lost due to procurement or competition violations. 

For example, €0.245m have been misspent on the Construction Information System by the Economics Ministry. The project cost €3.2m in total and is deemed unsatisfactory by the users.

"The system is simply awful. It's so adverse to the users that even the makers of the system have admitted to the fact," said Inese Aizstrauta, head of the Ķekava construction board.

The Ķekava municipality only agreed to sign a contract with the system after the Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry threatened to consider sacking the municipal council.

While €3.5m, which is almost half of the misspent money, was spent on skolas.lv, a portal for clients of the state education system. The Education Ministry chose to forgo using this portal as there are two similar ones on the market.

Four e-health projects worth €10m are currently in the limelight. 

Datorzinību centrs, a company owned by the former "E-matters Minister" Signe Bāliņa, has been partaking in both of these projects. She thinks that in both of these cases the clients' needs weren't defined clearly.

"[Skolas.lv] was ordered by the ministry, and it couldn't decide on what to do and how. The manager [of the project] was there one moment, and wasn't in the next. It wasn't clear, from the side of the state, what to do with all of it. The case in e-health is similar," she said.

According to Bāliņa the main problem in the e-health initiative was the fragmentation of the project.

Anita Krūmiņa, head of the Central Finance and Contracting Agency (CFLA) tasked with overseeing EU projects, said that the skolas.lv project had both planning and implementation problems.

"Skolas.lv had deviated from the time frame, and the development wasn't of an acceptable quality too," said Krūmiņa.

The State Police are currently investigating the skolas.lv project but no suspects have been named to date, i.e., 18 months after the investigation was started.

CFLA will continue to monitor e-projects for at least five more years.

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