Feeds

Call for heads to roll over failed spook IT system

'Appalling' intelligence project roasted

Mobile application security vulnerability report

Jacqui Smith has been urged to sack intelligence officials responsible for the failure of a secret major IT project after tens of millions of pounds had already been spent.

The call for heads to roll over the scrapping of SCOPE Phase II came yesterday from Labour backbencher Andrew MacKinlay.

SCOPE Phase II was the second stage of a project to upgrade communications and data sharing between the intelligence agencies.

It was meant to provide access to intelligence to British agents overseas and friendly foreign agencies, but was scrapped last year for undisclosed reasons. The Cabinet Office is now negotiating its way out of a huge contract with an unnamed private sector IT supplier.

MacKinlay said: "This should be a matter for a major inquiry, and people should be sacked for it.

"It is a classic example of the culture in the country: the bigger the mess up, the greater the cost, and the higher the rank of the person who presided over the mess up, the greater the rewards."

He named the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, as one of the senior civil servants he believes should - but will not - be held to account for the failure of SCOPE Phase II.

"I have no doubt that the Cabinet Secretary will, in time, be awarded a seat in the House of Lords, and that some of the other people who presided over this either already have gongs or will have their names advanced on a subsequent honours list," MacKinlay said.

MPs were debating the annual report of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), which meets in private and acts as the main parliamentary oversight body for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. The report was unusually damning in its criticism of the intelligence agencies over SCOPE Phase II.

"We have consistently reported concerns about SCOPE and are appalled that Phase II of the system – on which tens of millions of pounds have been spent – has now had to be scrapped," the cross-party group of MPs wrote.

When the report was published in March, the Cabinet Office had not yet disclosed to the ISC how or why it chose to scrap the system. Any replacement must be subject to "more stringent controls, and greater management and financial accountability", the Committee wrote. It plans an investigation of failures on SCOPE Phase II and a report in the next year.

MacKinlay's attack was joined by further angry criticisms from fellow Labour MP Dari Taylor, a member of the ISC. "It has been a costly and damaging experience," she said. "We are talking about highly complicated communications technology and seriously complex science, and an absolute requirement that the system should be secure."

The Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling called on Jacqui Smith to show that lessons would be learned when plans for future secure communications systems are developed.

Smith said: "The Government take this issue extremely seriously. We are very aware of the loss of any public funds, and especially at the current time.

"The decision to terminate the contract was not taken lightly - it was taken after detailed consideration and legal and technical advice."

She said the government would cooperate fully with the ISC inquiry into the failure of SCOPE Phase II. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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.
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.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.