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MI5 spymasters axe intel database upgrade, pour '£90m' down drain

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MI5 has reportedly abandoned a planned £90m upgrade to an intelligence database after the delayed IT project failed to meet its requirements.

The record management system was supposed to be up to speed in time last year to tackle the threat of a terrorist attack on the London Olympics. Designed to collect intelligence data and analysis across government departments, and supply that information to Blighty's operatives, the project was due to replace a system considered outmoded and inadequate.

The UK's Security Service drafted in consultants from Deloitte to assist in delivering the project, which has become the latest in a long line of failed multi-million pound UK government IT projects.

The technology was designed to sharpened the nation's intelligence gathering and analysis by integrating information held on paper-based archives with electronic records. However, trials of the project "were put on hold over fears that if the project failed it could leave Britain’s spooks vulnerable and struggling with an intelligence vacuum," the Independent on Sunday reported.

Sir Jonathan Evans, former head of MI5, made the decision to scrap the project before leaving the internal security agency earlier this year. Evans had told MPs on the Commons' Intelligence and Security Committee that a temporary delay in the project was acceptable.

MI5 still needs a revamped record management system, but the decision to go back to the drawing board - rather than pushing on with Plan A - was taken earlier this year. The total cost of abandoning the records management project will come out at more than £90m, according to sources polled by the IoS.

A Home Office spokeswoman declined to comment on the scrapping of the records management project when quizzed by the IoS, beyond saying “we don’t recognise the £90m figure”. ®

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