Norfolk faces race to avoid PSN disconnection

A digital transformation project by Norfolk County Council is running almost 5% over budget after delays which threaten the council’s Public Service Network accreditation.

A report to the council showed that the Digital Norfolk Ambition project, a partnership launched in 2013 with Hewlett Packard, had encountered “significant difficulties” in implementation.

As a result the original £26.35m budget has now risen to £27.6m, although the council says it has identified additional savings to reduce this gap to £0.75m.

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The report said: “As the work to implement the DNA programme has progressed it has become apparent that the level of ICT maturity was lower than had been assessed at the time of the HP contract. As a result a number of issues have emerged that have taken time to diagnose and resolve. This has resulted in delays in the timescales originally planned.”

The DNA project is aimed at replacing equipment, software and datacentres for the council and partner organisations.

In March, an attempt to migrate five servers into the HP data centre failed, according to the report.

However, officers said that “good progress” had been made in resolving the technical issues and one server has now successfully moved.

Council staff also experienced a number of issues with new devices provided under the programme, the council admitted. Roll-out of all 5,350 devices, originally planned to be completed by the end of March, is now targeted for the end of the year.

The council said that work is currently underway to understand the root causes of these issues and identify and implement solutions.

It said: “One key objective of the DNA contract is to mitigate the risk that NCC would lose its PSN accreditation which is an essential element of our infrastructure as it allows us to securely share email and other information with our public sector partners. The delays to the device roll-out have increased the risk of accreditation loss and the remaining roll-out is therefore being accelerated and prioritised to address this risk.”

Quoted in local paper the Eastern Daily Press, Conservative councillor Roger Smith said: “This report shows there is a catastrophe looming. It demonstrates what we are hearing on the ground with staff frustrated at the lack of support and how the programme is going. Our services will fail if this contract does not succeed.”

Colin Marrs

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