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MPs lambast Forces' new personnel database

Job-slashing machinery plagued by "human errors"

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has come in for yet more scathing criticism from its parliamentary oversight committee. The committee's report into the MoD annual accounts says that the introduction of a new personnel database system, run on the MoD intranet, has been a fiasco.

The Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system was intended to bring together the three armed services' separate systems for handling pay, personnel files, postings, promotion and training. It began rolling out in 2006, starting in the Royal Navy and Marines. However the parliamentary defence committee report says that "inadequate financial controls" have led to major problems with under- and over-payments in salaries, with £28.9m in mistaken payments having to be recovered.

“These failings are significant because they impact upon several areas critical to satisfaction with life in the Services," said committee chairman James Arbuthnot.

"It is, in our view, deeply regrettable that such mistakes were allowed to be made by those charged with oversight of the JPA programme. We will continue to monitor the operation of JPA, and hope to find evidence of vastly improved service when we report again next year.”

It won't come as a surprise to Reg readers that JPA was provided by EDS. On the occasion of the JPA agreement between MoD and EDS, Graham Lay - boss of EDS Defence - said: "JPA marks a turning point in the way suppliers and government work together to achieve the maximum benefit from partnering with each other."

Complaints regarding the introduction of JPA have rumbled on for years now. In 2007, asked what lay behind them, MoD spokespeople said that "human errors" committed by admin staff were to blame. The system is intended to deliver annual savings of £100m, principally by removing the need for large numbers of IT and personnel admin staff.

The full report can be read here in pdf. ®

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