Future Firecrest tops Foreign Office £686m IT spend

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office system has a current budget of £401m, while the Ministry of Justice has revealed a tech bill of £660m

Both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Justice have revealed the costs of their ongoing IT programmes, which, combined, total more than a billion pounds.

In response to a written question in parliament, Gillian Merron, parliamentary undersecretary of state for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), revealed that the department is working on eight multi-million-pound IT projects, with an estimated total cost of £686m.

The most costly is Future Firecrest, the FCO's next-generation desktop system and support services, due for completion by February 2012. The project's budget currently stands at £401m.

The FCO has also set aside £252m for the FCO Telecommunications Network's implementation and running costs from 2000 to 2010, when the project will be complete.

Other big spends include £9.7m for the FCO's web platform, scheduled to be in place by next month, and £7.6m for the FCO's Ocean, a cross-government telephony plan that covers the successor to the FCO Telecommunications Network as well as secure intranet.

Smaller IT projects include the £5.3m simplification of the Prism ERP system.

Earlier this week, Maria Eagle, parliamentary undersecretary for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), also gave an insight into the IT-spending habits of her department in a written answer to parliament.

According to Eagle, the MoJ's IT expenditure between 2007 and 2008 was £660m.

"This includes the cost of running the live operational services across the ministry, the costs of new IT developments and the transition costs to new IT suppliers for the former Department for Constitutional Affairs," she said.

Eagle declined to provide any details on the likely future spending habits of the MoJ, saying funding plans for 2009-10 and 2010-11 have yet to be agreed and will be subject to the ministry's spending review this December.