A project to establish nine regional fire and rescue centres in England, worth hundreds of millions of pounds, was a damp squib, MPs say.
The Labour initiative, aimed to replace 46 local fire and rescue control rooms, was a “complete failure” and wasted £469m, say members of the public accounts committee.
They said the Firecontrol scheme, scrapped in December 2010, had not achieved any of its objectives and that eight of the centres were empty "white elephants".
Out of the nine buildings constructed, only one – in London – has so far been transferred to the local fire and rescue service.
Negotiations are underway for another four of the centres to become occupied.
The empty buildings cost the taxpayer £4m every month to maintain, the committee heard.
Margaret Hodge, who chairs the MPs' committee, said the project had been "flawed from the outset" and one of the worst wastes of public money for many years.
"The taxpayer has lost nearly half a billion pounds and eight of the completed regional control centres remain as empty and costly white elephants."
She said the project – launched in 2004 by the Labour government – had been terminated in 2010 "with none of the original objectives achieved and a minimum of £469m being wasted".
The regional control centres would have been linked by a new IT system and covered regions defined as East, East Midlands, London, North East, North West, South East, South West, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside.
It was hoped the project would provide a better co-ordinated response to emergencies, such as terrorist attacks, floods and rail crashes.
However, the MPs' report said the IT system "was simply never delivered" and that the Department for Communities and Local Government had "fatally undermined" the project by not working properly with local fire services.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said he welcomed the report, but added that the fallout from the project was still being felt.
"[It] failed because ministers failed to listen to the voice of control staff and their professional representatives," he said.
"We argued that the project was not resilient and there was insufficient scrutiny of costs and contracts.
"Now the present government is leaving it to local fire and rescue services to clear up the mess, making ad hoc arrangements without an overall view of national resilience.”