Feeds

MPs slams Customs on suck it and see IT

Hey, that's our money you're throwing away

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Customs & Excise is spending vast sums on IT for uncertain benefits, according to an influential group of MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee slammed Customs for spending "huge sums of public money without being confident about the scale of likely benefits". It also said the department had failed to properly test e-services before roll-out.

Customs has so far spent £100m on its e-government programme, but traders are still sending their VAT returns on paper - because the e-VAT service is more complicated. Customs has a e-government budget of £327m which takes it to 2010, so there is plenty more taxpayers' money that can go to waste.

The MPs also note that Customs' Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract with Fujitsu has increased from £500m to £929m. It said it was hard to tell if Customs has got a good deal because "many of expected benefits remain to be demonstrated".

Customs must offer services electronically as part of the e-government programme. By March 2006 it should have achieved 50 per cent takeup of electronic service delivery.

According to the PAC, the introduction of an electronic VAT return in March 2000 was a failure because business had no reason to use the system which was more complicated than the paper-based version. After two years less than one per cent of traders used the service. Customs is considering forcing some companies to complete the electronic form but the PAC said it would be more likely to hit targets by offering a decent service which businesses were willing to use.

Customs was also criticised for its management of consultants. The department spent £28m on 300 consultants between November 2001 and March 2003.

Customs is to be merged with the Inland Revenue later this year - a process meant to be made easier by IT.

The Public Accounts Committee report is here. ®

Related stories

UK gov computer misuse is 'rife'
Dealers win High Court VAT action against Customs
Gov.uk fails to communicate with e-citizens

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.