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CSA computer system '£50m over budget'

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A computer system designed to speed up the operation of the Child Support Agency is months behind schedule and £50 million over budget.

The £200 million project was due to go live in April 2003, but has now been delayed till next summer due to unspecified "technical problems", people working on the project told the BBC.

EDS won the contract for the project with a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme, and its unclear who will end up paying for the overspend - already running at least £50 million, the BBC report.

The project is the latest in an ignoble line of UK government IT projects that have gone wrong, which have involved attempts to modernise the Magistrates Courts and Britain's ageing air traffic control systems. The latest problems affect an already controversial government agency.

The CSA, which is responsible for administering maintenance payments for children of separated parents, has faced repeated criticism in its nine-years of operation about mistakes and delays in the payments it makes. Last month it was forced to admit that it had written off £2 billion in payments owed by absent parents, promoting calls to break up the agency. ®

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