Photos: What Brown's reshuffle means for tech

Which IT projects are in and out?
By Nick Heath, Contributor
1 of 8 Nick Heath/ZDNET

Which IT projects are in and out?

Following a week of political turmoil culminating in a cabinet reshuffle, silicon.com takes a look at the changes wrought in the top tiers of government and how they might impact on the technology industry.

Serial tech entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar has been appointed enterprise champion by the government.

Sugar's remit will include acting as an adviser to small business and government, working closely with small business minister Shriti Vadera and trade and investment minister Mervyn Davis.

He will advise government on how best to help small firms and entrepreneurs and meet with banking executives to ensure that money is being made available to SMEs.

The unpaid post is expected to see him help small businesses in areas such as access to finance, how to handle the downturn and how to start a new company.

The star of the BBC show The Apprentice was chosen for the post thanks to the entrepreneurial instincts that saw him turn electronics manufacturer Amstrad into a household name in the home PC market in the 1980s.

Today Sugar runs a number of different businesses including computer company Viglen - which recently won a contract to supply £30m of hardware to the public sector, property investment firm Amsprop and the digital screen and signage business Amscreen.

Photo credit: Amshold

2 of 8 Nick Heath/ZDNET

New home secretary Alan Johnson has inherited a raft of ambitious and sometimes controversial tech projects from Jacqui Smith, who stepped down from the post last week.

Top of the list is the £5bn ID cards project, the scheme to provide a biometric identity card for UK citizens and foreign nationals in the UK.

Johnson takes over the project as the government prepares to issue the first cards to Manchester residents on a voluntary basis in September, ahead of a full rollout in 2012.

Question marks around the project include security concerns over enrolment and the lack of available card readers, as well as doubts over its future after the Tories pledged to scrap the scheme.

Only slightly less contentious is the Interception Modernisation Programme, the government proposal for ISPs to retain details of all communications over the internet, including email and social networking activity, in a form that can be processed by public authorities. The government is currently consulting with ISPs on the plans.

Johnson will also have responsibility for the Police National Database - a national police intelligence system, allowing forces across England and Wales to share information on people, objects, locations and events.

The system will bring together data from five operational areas of policing, custody, crime, intelligence, child abuse and domestic abuse into a central system. It will start to be rolled out in 2010.

Johnson's remit will cover the rollout of the £1.2bn e-Borders system, due to start in 2010, which will cross reference the personal details of almost all passengers travelling to and from the UK against a watchlist of suspects.

Johnson will also have ultimate responsibility for the National DNA Database kept by UK police. The database was recently the subject of a ruling by the European courts, saying that the details of all innocent people should be removed.

In response the Home Office has proposed it will delete the profiles of those arrested but not convicted of a serious violent or sexual crime after 12 years and delete the profiles of anyone arrested but not convicted of other offences after six years.

Johnson can also expect to face fresh pleas from lawyers for Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon, who made unsuccessful appeals to Smith to block his extradition to the US to face prosecution.

Photo credit: Office of Alan Johnson

3 of 8 Nick Heath/ZDNET

Incoming health secretary Andy Burnham will have the task of marshalling the Department of Health's hugely ambitious National Programme for IT (NPfIT) .

The man with overall control of the NPfIT under Burnham will be Mike O'Brien, minister for health services, who will have responsibility for NHS IT and Connecting for Health.

The world's largest health IT project, its projected cost has doubled in its lifetime to £12.7bn, and parts of it are running several years late.

The 10 projects that form the programme will replace an ageing patchwork of 5,000 different computer systems with a nationwide infrastructure connecting more than 100,000 doctors, 380,000 nurses and 50,000 other health professionals.

The project has been a mixed bag: praise has been won by the success of schemes such as the N3 national broadband network and the Picture Archiving and Communication System, which allows images such as X-rays to be stored and shared digitally.

Meanwhile, issues continue to dog other parts of the scheme: the biggest problems have arisen with the Care Records Service, a project to create a nationally available electronic medical record, which is four years behind schedule.

NHS IT suppliers BT and CSC have been told by the Department of Health they must speed up the rollout of key Care Record Service systems by November this year or risk seeing the scheme broken up.

Photo credit: Office of Andy Burnham

4 of 8 Nick Heath/ZDNET

Yvette Cooper will oversee more than £1.1bn worth of IT projects as the new work and pensions secretary.

Cooper will have her work cut out, after it was revealed earlier this year that nine major IT projects under the Department for Work and Pensions are collectively more than 15 years late.

The longest delayed project was the Central Payments System, a payments engine that was supposed to "increase speed and efficiency" but which has seen its completion date pushed back by more than five years.

The £178m system was initially due to go live in October 2006 and is now scheduled to be up and running by December 2011.

The Pensions Transformation Project, a £598m IT change programme designed to improve customer service and save money also suffered a delay in completion from March 2007 to 2010/11.

Of the nine projects listed by the DWP, only two had their completion dates delayed by less than one year: the Pension Reform Delivery Programme, set back by eight months, and the Document Repository Service, held up by four months.

Photo credit: Office of Yvette Cooper

5 of 8 Nick Heath/ZDNET

New defence secretary Bob Ainsworth will take over responsibility for managing the £7.1bn Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) programme.

The programme was intended to provide a single information infrastructure serving the army, navy, airforce and central MoD command but the project is now 18 months late and at least £182m over budget, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) warned earlier this year.

If fully implemented the system will support 150,000 terminals and 300,000 users at more than 2,000 sites, as well as troops on operations and Royal Navy ships. The EDS-led Atlas consortium won the contract to design, install and run the DII back in 2005.

According to the PAC report, 62,800 terminals for the DII system should have been installed by the end of July 2007, but only 45,600 were in place at the end of September 2008.

As well as problems with software delivery, the PAC blames "totally inadequate research" in assessing the buildings where terminals would be installed - many of which were subsequently found to contain asbestos - for causing delays to the project.

Other high tech projects that have run into trouble include major projects to develop a range of aircraft, vehicle, communication, missile and detection systems.

A review of 20 major projects by the National Audit Office said that they would cost £28bn, which is £3bn more than originally forecast.

Five projects have suffered "significant" difficulties in keeping to their budgets and schedule: the Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile; the Nimrod Maritime Reconnaissance and Attack Mk4 aircraft; the Terrier armoured engineering vehicle; the Soothsayer electronic warfare system and Naval Extremely High Frequency/Super High Frequency Satellite Communications Terminals.

Photo credit: Ministry of Defence

6 of 8 Nick Heath/ZDNET

As the new secretary for communities and local government John Denham will be responsible for overseeing a shake-up of national fire service tech.

The £380m FiReControl project to build nine networked high-tech fire brigade control centres will see the regional hubs replace the 46 existing fire control centres in England, providing wider access to live information during emergencies and better co-ordination of available manpower and equipment.

However, implementation of the centres' IT systems has fallen more than two years behind schedule.

Further delays announced last year were blamed on fixing "a number of difficulties with the ICT".

The department has also commissioned the building of National Resilience Extranet, a browser tool linking more than 1,000 organisations involved in disaster relief efforts, which will go live this year.

Photo credit: Office of John Denham

7 of 8 Nick Heath/ZDNET

The new secretary for culture, media and sport Ben Bradshaw is in charge of the department jointly responsible for laying out the roadmap for the UK's technological future, known as Digital Britain.

The department has commissioned Lord Stephen Carter, minister for communications, technology and broadcasting, to produce the Digital Britain report, to determine the government's policy on a range of technology issues.

The report, expected later this month, will cover subjects including guidance on what money should be put into fibre broadband, whether broadband should be a universal right, IT skills, investment in digital content and how to best distribute and trade spectrum.

One of the concrete proposals to come out of an interim report published in January was the need for the UK to have a minimum 2Mbps broadband connection for every home by 2012.

It will also include recommendations on legislation to tackle illegal P2P file-sharers, with ISPs expected to be required to warn customers about their illegal behaviour and to share information on the worst offenders.

Photo credit: Department for Culture, Media and Sport

8 of 8 Nick Heath/ZDNET

Transport secretary Lord Adonis has the job of taking over a department accused of "stupendous incompetence" over a shared services programme that cost more than it's saved.

The Department for Transport planned to cut costs by building the Shared Service Centre in Swansea to provide human resources, payroll and finance support services to its agencies and the central department.

But a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the project was mismanaged.

The department originally estimated the total cost of setting up the programme would be £55m, with gross savings (before costs) of £112m up to March 2015 - giving a net benefit of £57m. But the DfT now estimates the programme will cost £121m and produce benefits of £40m - a net cost to the taxpayer of £81m.

However, a recent review of IT projects undertaken by the DfT found a number of its agencies - including the Highways Agency and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - have shaved millions of pounds off the projected costs of IT schemes.

Photo credit: Department for Transport

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