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Troubled CSA system costs extra £40m per year

Computer problems cause 100,000 cases to be handled manually...
Written by Shelley Portet, Contributor

Computer problems cause 100,000 cases to be handled manually...

Failures in a computer system used by the Child Support Agency (CSA) are costing the agency about £40m per year in additional work.

Since 2005, faults in the CS2 computer system, which deals with child-maintenance claims and payments, have left it unable to process thousands of cases annually.

Claims that cannot be processed in CS2 are moved to a separate database for manual processing by CSA staff. By December 2010, almost 100,000 claims had been moved into this database from CS2, CSA quarterly figures show.

Every claim that has to be removed from the CS2 system and managed manually roughly costs the CSA an additional £400, according to a CSA spokesman - putting the annual cost of rectifying the computer problems at just under £40m as of the end of last year.

The government has announced plans to replace the Child Support Agency's troubled CS2 system by 2012

The government has announced plans to replace the Child Support Agency's troubled CS2 system by 2012
Photo: Shutterstock

The increasing cost of the CS2 computer system has prompted the government to confirm plans to invest in a new system due to be launched in 2012.

The CSA spokesman told silicon.com: "These figures underline the importance of delivering future child maintenance on a single IT system and we believe the new child-maintenance scheme being developed will provide reduced costs for the taxpayer as well as a better service."

The new system is being developed by Tata Consultancy Services. The CSA itself will also be scrapped and replaced with a new agency, although details of this plan have yet to be announced.

CS2 was supposed to replace the original CSA computer system, CSCS, which has been in use since 1993. However, due to problems with the CS2 system from its inception, many claims were never transferred.

According to figures from December 2010, just under 400,000 cases were being processed through the 1993 system, leading the CSA to use three different systems to handle 1,152,200 claims.

The CSA spokesman told silicon.com that the current issue with the CS2 system is largely one of cost and not customer service but admitted that clerically managed claims can result in slight delays.

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