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The Ministry of Justice has hauled in EDS for what promises to be a lively discussion about the future of the prisoner record programme.

The National Offender Management Information Service (NOMIS) was meant to provide a central database for offender records to link prisons and the probation service. Offenders would have one record throughout their sentence and probation period. In January this was radically cut back to exclude the probation service - so there will no longer be a single case management system.

The project was originally slated to cost £234m but this has gone the way of all government IT projects - by August 2007 it had doubled to £690m. Unions put that figure closer to £1bn.

The scheme is currently under the beady eye of the National Audit Office - its report is due in early 2009 and is expected to give the project a kicking. The NAO is looking at whether the initial programme was "realistic, well planned and well managed" as well as whether the best value for money option was chosen for the radically reduced programme.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Commercial negotiations with EDS are continuing regarding implementation and live service costs of Prison NOMIS.” ®

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