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Pension quango's £18.5m project FINALLY goes live... 2 months late

Pension Protection Fund's supplier blames Pension Protection Fund

Exclusive An £18.5m project carried out on behalf of the UK's Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has finally gone live - two months late.

A comprehensive IT infrastructure overhaul and modernisation of hardware and software was due to be installed and running by 28 February. However, The Register has learned that CGI missed both the February and the revised March dates.

The PPF project, awarded in August 2013 to tech consultancy CGI, was slated to be up and running on 17 March. “Owned” by the Department for Work and Pensions, the PPF compensates those whose pension funds have disappeared after their employers enter insolvency.

CGI was expected to take over running the IT infrastructure for PPF from incumbent supplier BT. Yet the system was only brought online at the end of May, following the last bank holiday weekend, according to sources close to the PPF who spoke to The Reg. For its part, CGI has blamed the delay on the PPF.

In response to a Freedom of Information request the PPF told The Reg:

CGI have stated to the PPF that the date was not met due to the PPF's failure to complete the obligations in respect of the previous MSP (managed service provider) within the agreed timetable under the contract.

The mega deal covers servers, storage systems and disks, desktops, as well as laptops and networking infrastructure. The latter included Wi-Fi, telephony and application provisioning. CGI was to provide Windows Server, SharePoint and Office, and Citrix XenApp.

Services from CGI included client, data networking, telephony, database, email and internet.

A financial modelling system called Long Term Risk Model (LTRS) – based on Excel and which uses Microsoft Office macros – was not included in the original contract between the PPF and CGI. It's understood that this omission proved a sticking point between the PPF and CGI, as PPF had wanted this mission-critical system included.

The PPF told us LTRS operated on a "separate in-house infrastructure, so it was not necessary for it to be included within the MSP contract".

Now the CGI contract is in place and systems are up and running, users are complaining it's actually worse than the set up run by BT. A source close to the PPF told us the system is afflicted by slow performance and bugs. The source blamed CGI's configuration of Citrix, saying exactly the same applications as before are running on the new infrastructure.

CGI declined The Reg's request for comment. ®

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