'A £656m government scheme to upgrade the UK’s criminal records checks system has been branded a “masterclass in incompetence” in a damning Commons report.
The Home Office project to modernise the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has been marred by poor planning, delays and spiralling costs after it was outsourced to a private consultancy, said the Public Accounts Committee.
The programme is more than four years late and costs are expect overshoot its budget by £229m, the report added.
“Government has a crucial role to play in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults but the handling of this project has been a masterclass in incompetence,” said PAC chairwoman Meg Hillier. “None of the cost-saving and service benefits set out in the original business case have been achieved.”
In 2012, the government contracted Tata Consultancy Services to design, build and run a new IT system that would modernise DBS and move its services away from a paper-based system.
The project was expected to be completed by June 2014 but it was delayed from the start and the DBS was forced to extend a contact with its previous contactor, Capita, by two years.
The modernisation is still not complete, while the expected total cost has soared from £656m to £885m.
It is not clear when Tata now expects to complete the project and the PAC said there was “a strong risk that they may run out of time before the contract ends in March 2019”.
A new feature introduced to make it easier to check for updates to records has received only a “fraction” of the demand expected due to “a failure to understand what service users want”, added the report.
It said the project “has not delivered the promise of a cheaper, better safeguarding service for customers”.'
Read more: Home Office squanders £229million in 'incompetent' outsourcing of criminal record checks upgrade
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