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Home Office threw £347m in the bin on failed asylum processing IT project

Shiny new bin ready for new £208m programme

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The Home Office frittered away hundreds of millions of taxpayer pounds on a botched tech project designed to manage immigration and asylum applications, a National Audit Office report has revealed.

The "flagship" IT programme, the Immigration Case Work computer system, was launched in 2010 to replace fragmented systems and pull together caseworkers to improve and speed up decision making.

The ICW was expected to replace the legacy database and 20 disparate IT and paper-based systems by March this year - it was to comprise applications, decisions and a search facility.

But the programme experienced "delays and problems" and was subsequently shuttered in August 2013, "delivering significantly less than planned for £347m," the NAO revealed today.

The report stated the Home Office lacks "good quality management information" to process applications "partly because of poor IT".

There are 301,000 cases being dealt with and this includes 31,000 dating back to more than seven years.

Bizarrely, caseworkers continue to rely on on the dusty Casework Information Database but this creaky old system has a "history of freezing and being unusable" and does not sync with other existing systems, the auditors claimed.

A swanky new project, Immigration Platform Technologies is to address legacy IT issues at a cost of £208m by 2016/17. This involves a series of bite-sized components to give "incremental improvements," said the NAO.

Support contracts for legacy tech are due to expire in 2016 before the new programme, which "still has far to go to have a significant impact", is fully rolled out in 2017.

IBM won the immigration casework management system gig in 2008 but it is unclear if IBM was then appointed in 2010 when the project was launched by the coalition government.

We are still awaiting a response from the Home Office and IBM. ®

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