Senior officials face corruption charges in botched e-government Project 112

Vu Dinh Thuan, 67, former deputy chief of the Government Office and head of Project 112, a program that attempted to computerize the entire country’s administrative system, will be charged with “abuse of power,” the central police said Thursday.

The project’s secretary, Luong Cao Son, 52, will be charged with the same count, the police said.

SPP had also ratified the charges against 21 other people in the scam, the police said.

According to police, Thuan caused losses of around VND4.6 billion (currently US$258,350) to the state exchequer of which he siphoned off some VND275 million.

Thuan and Son were arrested in September 2007 after inspectors discovered they had connived with several other state officials to inflate printing costs of training materials for the project and pocketed the difference.

They had also received kickbacks from several IT companies like ISA, Toan Cau, and Nhat Vinh for awarding them contracts under the project.

Launched in 2001, the VND3.83 trillion (currently $220 million) Project 112 aimed to install integrated software at administrative offices nationwide, train officials in IT, and link all agencies through one shared network.

Its management was entrusted to officials from the Government Office, a central bureau overseeing various administrative tasks.

But following financial, technical and legal problems like flawed software, wasteful spending, and poor planning, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung scrapped the project in April 2007, saying it had “failed to meet its target.”

But by then the software for certain important tasks had been installed in 40 provinces and cities at a cost of VND180 billion ($10.3 million), though half the state organizations using them say only a third of the software is serviceable.

Several provinces have abandoned the project altogether and resorted to older software which they say is better and easier to use.

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