A U.K. program to strengthen border security by collecting passenger information in advance and consolidating two computer systems is running eight years late and may end up costing two-thirds more than anticipated, a panel of lawmakers said.
The Home Office predicted in 2007 it would complete the program by 2011 at a cost of 600 million pounds ($850 million). By last year, the project was still short of the original target to check 95 percent of passport information in advance of people crossing the border and was unlikely to be completed until at least 2019, the cross-party Public Accounts Committee said Friday in an e-mailed report.
“Successful completion of this project is essential to the security of our international borders,” the committee chairwoman, Meg Hillier, said in a statement. “Yet the original target date has long passed and we are still at least three years away from delivery. The stop-start approach has cost the taxpayer dear.”
U.K. government departments frequently struggle with large information-technology projects, with several running past deadlines and over budget in recent years. The committee criticized the environment department earlier this week for a “childish turf war” that led to disruptions and delays in delivering a a computerized system for processing payments to farmers. In 2013, it said a failed National Health Service program to centralize patient records could end up costing at least 12 billion pounds.
The Home Office canceled its original contract with Raytheon Co. in 2010 after the company was unable to keep up with the government’s “detailed and evolving” requirements, according to Friday’s report. By 2015, it had racked up spending totaling 830 million pounds, with final expenditure likely to exceed 1 billion pounds, it said.
Hillier expressed concern about whether the project will even be completed by 2019, saying “we are not convinced warnings about the progress of this project have been treated with sufficient gravity, nor that sufficient action has been taken to prevent a repeat of past problems.”
The committee recommended that the government should set out what data it needs, what it expects to deliver under the program this year, and who is responsible for attaining those goals. It also said the Home Office should try to minimize the turnover of officials who are “critical” to the success of the program, and ensure that it consults at all stages with airlines, shipping companies and other government agencies about the best way to reach its targets.
This article was written by Alex Morales from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.