Home Office retains £1.5m contractors to manually fix data issues with immigration systems

Department brings in external support for missing or duplicate entries across Atlas and CID systems, both of which are in use

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The Home Office has spent £1.5m to retain the services of a team of almost 50 contractors employed to manually review and resolve issues caused by missing or duplicated data entries in the department’s two immigration casework systems.

Departmental documents also reveal that, even after this process is complete, a “level of enduring data-quality issues may be accepted” in its immigration systems for some time to come.

The department is currently in the process of transitioning to Atlas – the new national system for immigration data. The incoming platform will ultimately replace the 22-year-old CID, otherwise known as the Case/Casework Information Database.

There does not appear to be any public statement containing a definitive timeline for the switchover – including moving new and existing data to the Atlas – although, last summer, then-immigration compliance minister Chris Philp said that that the Home Office expected “full implementation of the Atlas casework database by the end of 2021”.

In guidance issued several weeks ago, the department said that it remains engaged in “transitioning its electronic immigration records from CID to the Atlas system”

“During the transition, officers may need to record information in one system but not the other, or duplicate entries (‘double-key’) between systems,” it added.

Newly released commercial documents reveal that, on 2 May, the Home Office entered into an initial three-month contract with Deloitte for the provision of a team of “external data reviewers”. That deal has now been extended for a further three months, taking its overall worth to £1.5m.

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The engagement covers the provision of “47 experienced operational resources to support with the manual reviewing and resolving [of] an ongoing ‘double keying’ issue between CID and Atlas”, according to the procurement notice.

The text of the contract reveals that the department needs to fix “discrepancies” caused by numerous instances in which a person has duplicate open casework entries in one of the two databases, or has a case file in Atlas – but not in CID.

The first phase of the resolution service to be delivered by Deloitte is a manual “data treatment” process intended to ensure there is “one open case in CID and one open case in Atlas per service for any given individual”, the document said.

This phase was due to have been completed by the end of May, to be followed by a second stage in which the department hopes to identity and “address any critical [or] high-priority inconsistencies” between individuals’ casework as recorded in the two databases.

This will include instances where initial stages of the case were recorded in CID only, before later stages were entered into both platforms – or double-keyed, to use the department’s parlance.

The third and final phase of work to be undertaken by the manual review team will focus on “residual data quality issues that the business may wish to rectify in [the] longer term, but which are not deemed high enough priority to delay double-keying cessation”, according to the contract.

The document added: “Likewise, there are likely to be decisions taken that rectifying some data-quality issues does not justify the time and resource investment required, so a level of enduring data-quality issues may be accepted.”

Such “issues” have been something of a recurring theme for the Home Office for some time. In parliamentary contributions, the department’s ministers frequently claim that data on a range of immigration issues cannot be collated or published as it remains recorded only on paper files or inaccessible internal notes systems.

Recent queries to have met with such a response include requests for data on: the average time it takes to process asylum claims; how many claims the department has processed each month in the last five years; how many interviews the department conducted last year; and how many applicants were last year given permission to work in the UK.


Sam Trendall

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