Here is a great waste of taxpayers' funds: the General Register Office (GRO) of the United Kingdom yesterday announced that the U.K. government is abandoning a £16 Million (roughly $30 Million US Dollars) project to digitize 250 million records of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales from 1837 to the present day.
Technically, the announcement did not use the word "abandon." Instead, the announcement stated that the project has been "delayed indefinitely." However, informal conversations with government employees indicate that all employees assigned to the project are being re-assigned elsewhere and that all funding has stopped.
An attempt to scan, index and digitize 250 million records of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales from 1837 to the present day was supposed to result in a new public website that would let people trace their ancestors at the touch of a button next February. Now, three years after the government awarded the £16m contract to German computer giant Siemens, the deal has been terminated with only half the work done.
The failure drew strong criticism from genealogists who were already dismayed that last October the government removed access to paper ledgers that contained indexes of births marriages and deaths at the family records centre in London when it decided to launch the website. Te digital records were supposed to replace the paper records. Now the paper records are unavailable and the digital records project has been "delayed indefinitely."
You can read more, including reaction from a number of genealogists, in The Guardian's web site at http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/aug/16/genealogy.records.