A government IT project that cost the taxpayer over €70m has been "terminated" after nine years because it never worked.

The Department of Finance admits it had to write off €27.3m worth of computer hardware when it took over the ill-fated Public Services Broker project from the Department of Social and Family Affairs last year.

But unlike the €52m wasted on e-voting machines, which were stored for years at a massive cost to the taxpayer, the hardware purchased for the Broker project was "dismantled" by the department as soon as it took over the project.

This meant the department was able to salvage €5m worth of software before the hardware was binned.

Finance also had to terminate a "substantial contract with a company for services to support Broker" which, together with other costs, came to just under €1.5m.

Launched in 2000, the Public Services Broker was designed to provide the public with single-website access to all public services. But despite an annual spend of €15m in 2007 and 2008 it never worked, so when the Department of Finance took it over it was decided to immediately shut it down.

While the Public Services Broker had been used fairly successfully by Revenue for online PAYE and by the Department Social Welfare for death notices, the system was so long in development that it was quickly bypassed by others that did the same job faster and more cheaply.

The Department of Finance told the Comptroller and Auditor General the problems associated with large IT projects usually stem from a "lack of internal IT skills, knowledge and experience which in turn leads to an over-reliance on external resources" or IT consultants.