Failed IT projects cost Government almost £1 billion

The failure of both the E-Borders and Immigration Case Work programmes means that the Home Office has wasted close to £1 billion of taxpayers’ money, according to the Public Accounts Committee. The two IT projects were both scrapped having failed to deliver what was intended, leaving the immigration system in a mess and the department still using legacy systems.

The ill-fated E-Borders scheme, which I recently penned my thoughts on, involved introducing exit checks at UK borders but the IT contract was cancelled in 2010 at a cost of £259 million. That cost rose to £483 million after supplier Raytheon secured a settlement from the Government, claiming that objectives and targets had not been made clear to them.

The Immigration Case Work project, meanwhile, was designed to make it easier for officials to process visa, asylum and residency applications by combining several systems into one streamlined system. However, the programme was abandoned in August 2013 having failed to deliver, wasting another £347 million. Caseworkers are still using the legacy system which suffers from freezing and a lack of integration with other systems.

As well as costing huge sums of money, these unsuccessful projects have created a huge backlog of applications that the Home Office is struggling to cope with. Around 29,000 asylum applications dating back as far as 2007 have still not been resolved, while over 175,000 people are awaiting removal from the country.

The failure of the E-Borders and Immigration Case Work schemes reinforces the argument for an Agile, step-by-step approach to large-scale IT projects. This approach ensures better collaboration between the parties involved, and means that problems and challenges can be identified and resolved before they jeopardise the whole operation. The Government is currently working on a new IT programme called Immigration Platform Technologies, which will cost £209 million. Let’s hope that they have learnt their lessons and that the money does not go to waste.