Feeds

MI5 bumps off ambitious IT plan

Opts for Microsoft Office instead?

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

The British Security Service (BSS) got itself into such a pickle with its IT modernisation that it has been forced to scrap one of its key projects.

The service was supposed to get a new document and records management system in 2004, but last April the Intelligence and Security Committee reported that the project had been giving the BSS gyp for a couple of years.

The 2005/06 annual report revealed that the project had been abandoned: "The original requirement for an electronic document and records management system was judged to be too ambitious and not deliverable within the budget and timescale agreed with HM Treasury."

Instead, the service would make do with "only...upgrading the core desktop and messaging system".

In other words, buy the latest versions of Microsoft Office and Outlook. The committee could not reveal how much money the service has wasted on the scrapped project, but echoed advice given to government about its IT projects long before MI5 embarked on this bodge: "The scope of any major project should be more clearly thought out at the outset."

The project suffered, the committee said, because the secret service did not have enough project managers and IT experts "to manage all their IT and capital projects at the same time".

These same problems are still besetting the BSS's other ambitious IT project - SCOPE, this one designed to securely link all 10 intelligence-related government organisations by way of a web interface.

SCOPE was originally earmarked for completion in 2004. Then, phase one of the project, which involved installing computer equipment, was rescheduled for completion in April 2005. Now, this phase might be wrapped up by the end of 2006.

Phase two, the linking of the departments, suffered security problems and issues with the quality of suppliers. Moreover, it suffered a common IT complaint - user acceptance. The departments on which the BSS was trying to foist SCOPE had not been consulted and were not happy with what they were given.

As if that wasn't enough, the committee is concerned that the BSS's overstretched project and IT managers still have too much work on. SCOPE slippages mean that phase one and two will be running side by side.

"It is not clear whether the SCOPE team or partner departments will have enough people with the right technical skills to enable both phases to progress simultaneously," the report said.

To make matters worse for the BSS, there is also the upgrade of IT infrastructure and rebuilding of training facilities for the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6 - the James Bond outfit. What's more, GCHQ, Britain's communications listening centre, has also recently had two major IT modernisation projects subsumed into its larger SIGmod (signals intelligence modernisation) programme. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
Seagate chances ARM with NAS boxes for the SOHO crowd
There's an Atom-powered offering, too
Gartner: To the right, to the right – biz sync firms who've won in a box to the right...
Magic quadrant: Top marks for, er, completeness of vision, EMC
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.