Scrapped IT project cost taxpayers £24m

A failed secret service IT project cost £24.4 million after contractor delays and disagreements with an unnamed supplier.

The government abandoned the second phase of the Scope IT project - a scheme to create collaboration between British security and intelligence agencies - in July 2008.

It has since emerged that the cost of scrapping the project was £24.4 million.

Cabinet Office minister Tessa Jowell said the second phase “was cancelled following the failure of the main commercial supplier to the programme to meet key contractual milestones.”

Jowell suggested the Cabinet Office may take legal action, stating the department "working with the contractor to resolve issues arising from the termination of the programme, including consideration of the legal avenues available".

MPs have called for a full parliamentary inquiry. In May, Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay said: "This should be a matter for a major inquiry, and people should be sacked for it. It is a classic example of the culture in the country: the bigger the mess up, the greater the cost, and the higher the rank of the person who presided over the mess up, the greater the rewards.”

Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet office minister, Jenny Willott said in a statement on Friday: "What's particularly worrying is the nature of the SCOPE programme. It is essential that security and intelligence agencies and government departments have effective systems for close collaboration."

"The Cabinet Office is supposed to be responsible for co-ordinating IT across Government. But if even they abandon major projects, this does not bode well for other departments."

“At a time when families are counting every penny, the news that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been blown on yet another failed Government IT project will be hard to take."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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