Feeds

MPs slam criminal assets recovery IT 'mess'

A lesson in limited investment

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

The agency set up to recoup the ill-gotten gains of criminals lacked the appropriate information systems, according to a group of MPs.

A failure to invest in IT left the Assets Recovery Agency unable to manage either its case load or staff resources adequately. The claim is made in a report from Parliament's committee of public accounts.

Edward Leigh, chair of the committee, said: "The Assets Recovery Agency has done a good job in testing through the courts new powers for recovering the proceeds of crime. But the agency has been successful in little else.

"Its management information systems were in a mess, it prioritised cases badly, and it underestimated the time it would take to pursue them."

The committee found that the agency gave insufficient consideration to its business processes, resulting in basic management failures.

It had no comprehensive database of cases and was unable to provide the National Audit Office (NAO) with a list of all cases under its management.

The agency also decided against spending £300,000 on a staff time recording system, and as a result had no records of the time staff spent on individual cases. This made it difficult to estimate the cost of individual cases, to make informed decisions on which cases to prioritise, and to make the best use of staff resources, says the report.

The Assets Recovery Agency was set up in 2003 to recover assets from criminals. But it recovered only £23m against expenditure of £65m, missing its target to be self-financing by 2005-06.

It is to be disbanded, from April 2008 at the earliest, with its powers and ongoing cases transferring to the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

The committee calls on the agency and its successor to implement new management information systems to provide reliable and easily accessible information on total caseload activity, prioritisation of work, cost of handling cases, productivity of staff and monitoring of how cases progress.

"The Serious Organised Crime Agency will have to learn from these mistakes. Otherwise few criminals will suffer sleepless nights worrying about losing the proceeds of their crimes," said Leigh.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
UK.gov's Open Source switch WON'T get rid of Microsoft, y'know
What do you mean, we've ditched Redmond in favour of IBM?!
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
US Social Security 'wasted $300 million on an IT BOONDOGGLE'
Scrutiny committee bods probe derailed database project
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves
Big Content could get the right to order ISPs to stop traffic
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
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.