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NAO slams £830m e-Borders IT project as ‘not value for money’

Even so, some ‘valuable capabilities have been added to our defences’

No need to man the barricades just yet

The UK government's spending watchdog has slammed the £830m, 12-year e-Borders project – intended to collect details from passenger lists of all people entering and leaving the UK – as having failed to deliver value for money.

“The e-Borders programme began in 2003, with an ambition which has remained largely unchanged in the intervening years," said Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office.

"It was due to have been completed in 2011. Since we are now in 2015, with the Home Office still not having delivered the original vision ... I cannot view e-Borders as having delivered value for money," he added.

"Some valuable capabilities have been added to our border defences during the life of this project," he continued, "though their efficiency is impaired by a failure to replace old IT systems."

In March the Home Office finally agreed to hand over £150m to defence company Raytheon over the dispute relating to the cancellation of its £750m contract for the programme. This was on top of the £35m it spent on legal fees during a protracted arbitration process.

In November 2007, the department had entered a contract with the US-based technology and defence company to implement its e-Borders programme, but terminated it in July 2010 citing a failure to deliver milestones.

The report noted that the expenditure developed new capabilities to receive and analyse data on those travelling to and from the UK. By 2010, the e-Borders programme had built a new centre staffed by people from the department, police, and the National Crime Agency.

"However, the quantity of data analysed is less than planned with information provided on 86 per cent of passengers travelling to the UK in September 2015, compared with a target of 95 per cent by December 2010," the report said.

The department has also failed to integrate its system and to fully exploit the potential of the data it is receiving.

It said there were several reasons for the failure to deliver, including overly ambitious delivery plans, and a failure to manage the project's 600 stakeholders. However, it noted that by 2015 there were signs of an improved relationship with plane, ferry and rail carriers. ®

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