Public Accounts Committee slates Home Office over e-Borders overrun

The Public Accounts Committee has lambasted the Home Office for letting the e-Borders project run half a billion pounds over budget and eight years late.

MPs said that the Home Office was “complacent” and had failed to take responsibility for e-Borders. The project introduces IT systems to secure the UK’s borders and was due to be finished by 2011 with a budget of £600m. However, it now looks as if it will be 2019 before the technology is implemented. The cost is expected to be around £1.1 billion.

The Public Accounts Committee said several previous warnings had been made by the government’s Major Projects Authority, leaving MPs concerned over whether new targets would be achieved.

“The aims of the e-Borders and successor programmes will be delivered at least eight years late and cost significantly more than expected, but no-one has accepted responsibility for this,” the report said.

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“If the Home Office is to complete this project before the decade is out then it must get its house in order now – starting by setting out exactly what it expects to achieve this year, and who will be held to account for it.”

The Home Office had contracted US defence firm Raytheon to implement the programme before this contract was cancelled in July 2010. Raytheon later sued the UK government for £500 million. The government settled for £150 million.

“This report reveals a history of poor management and a worrying complacency about its impact on taxpayers,” said PAC chair Meg Hillier MP.

“It is accepted that successful completion of this project is essential to the security of our international borders. Yet the original target date has long passed and we are still, at least, three years away from delivery. The stop, start approach has cost the taxpayer dear.”

Colin Marrs

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