MPs give offender system drubbing in scathing report
Government cannot explain where the millions went
The Public Accounts Commitee, the funding watchdog, has reported back on its investigation into the failed National Offender Management System - which was abandoned in 2007 after wasting millions of pounds - without pulling any punches.
The EDS-run project was effectively gutted two years ago - it will now, hopefully, provide three databases rather than one, by 2011 at a cost of £513m.
The original spec was for a single database for all offenders at a cost of £234m. It originally aimed to create a single database with an individual record for every offender at every stage of the justice process which would be used by prison service and probation service.
The Committee found the same depressing roll call of faults that dog so many government IT projects in the UK. There were no cost or progress checks for the first three years of the project. The "Senior Responsible Owner" - meant to carry the can throughout the life of the project - had no project management experience, which meant that NOMS cannot explain in any detail how or where the £161m was spent.
The relevant government departments had a "good news culture", so senior managers did not challenge the promises they were given by vendors.
No individual took key decisions or responsibility for the failure.
The report is robust in its criticism of the failed project. It said:
C-NOMIS is a singular example of comprehensively poor project management, and roll out of the re-scoped programme has only just begun. The C-NOMIS project, initially envisaged by the Home Office for delivery in January 2008 for £234 million, was stopped in August 2007 because costs had trebled. The NOMIS programme was revised and scaled back to three offender databases for £513 million, for delivery by 2011.
The Committee warned that despite assurances from NOMS it remained concerned that the reduced project would fail.
It said the failure could have been avoided if the "basic priniciples and existing good practice had been followed". ®
"If EDS were project managing properly, the customer would have been penalised heavily for weak and changing requirements"
but they were - that's why the costs escalated >3x
Would I be surprised to find then that the SNP complain about Scots being "tightfisted"?
"Scottish Prices" story from yesterday, etc???
Maybe it should have been called "scots get great value"
So they had a £200M+ project under someone with no project management experience....?
In 1993 I was an £8-an-hour qualified-by-experience (i.e. totally unqualified) accounting temp on the books of a well known agency. They sent me to an interview for a job at the Prison Service headquarters in John Islip St, SW1. I sat before a panel of 3 or 5 interviewers (it is a bit of a blur) with steadily increasing incredulity as they explained that the Prison Service did not know where its money went, and this was a problem because they had to make sure they spent it all before the end of the year of the Treasury would cut their budget. They therefore wanted the successful candidate to devise and implement a management information system. ... There was just one problem. The person concerned would have to deal with Prison Governors, who were largely responsible for spending the budget, and er... were generally very good man-managers. "You mean they are usually inumerate?" I asked. Yes.
I did not take the job. I often wonder who did.