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MI5's computers will be over budget and under-powered

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MI5's new computer system will go over budget by at least 50 per cent, according to a report (pdf) released yesterday by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. This being a report from an intelligence committee, the actual cost of the system (planned or otherwise) is not made public.

The report also warned that a project called SCOPE, a secure web-based information system that would connect the producers and consumers of intelligence, is running three years late.

Describing the renewal of IT infrastructure, the report says that the project has "given rise to a number of problems. We have been told that the project will now deliver less capability than previously planned and it will cost at least 50 per cent more than originally estimated."

The good news is that this expensive and under-powered system will be online earlier than expected.

Regarding SCOPE, the committee says that it is concerned that the system has yet to deliver any benefits, although it acknowledged that the delay has allowed a "more robust" system to be developed. In response, the government said that "it is important to devote the necessary time to getting it right".

The report also warns that there are too few project managers, and too little IT expertise within the agency. In its official response (pdf) the government said that MI5's Director General was aware of the problem, and that "some measures have already been taken to introduce more specialised project management expertise into the Service". ®

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