Gov't writes off £24m on failed IT project

The government is attempting to recover costs from its supplier after phase two of the Scope programme was terminated after 'key contractual milestones' were missed

The government has written off millions of pounds on the second part of a collaborative working system.

The £24.4m write-off on the Scope programme — a secure electronic comms network aimed at improving information sharing across 10 government departments and security and intelligence agencies — was approved by the Treasury after phase two of the rollout was terminated in July last year.

The first phase of the project was delivered on time and on budget back in 2007, according to the Cabinet Office's annual report and accounts published on Thursday.

However, the second phase — which was to provide additional functionality to allow for greater collaborative working between agencies and departments — was shuttered following the failure of the main commercial supplier to meet "key contractual milestones", the report said.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office declined to provide details of the missed milestones or name the supplier in question because of "confidentially on security and commercial grounds".

Tessa Jowell, the minister for the Cabinet Office, told parliament yesterday that the government is attempting to recover costs from its supplier.

"My department is now working with the contractor to resolve issues arising from the termination of the programme, including consideration of the legal avenues available," she said.

"The aim of the work is to ensure that Her Majesty's government and, ultimately, the taxpayer recover the appropriate value from the supplier which relates to those undelivered parts of the programme."

Asked whether there will be a replacement system for phase two, the Cabinet Office spokesman said work is underway on providing core parts of it, but added that there are currently no plans to go back out to tender.

"The collapse of [phase two] doesn't mean the collapse of the Scope project full-stop," the spokesman added. "The vast majority of it has been hugely successful."

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