Friday, March 13, 2009

C-NOMIS - another IT fuck-up

This time a grandiose Ministry of Justice IT project, C-NOMIS, to create a national centralised database to track offenders in Her Majesty's penal institutions, comes under the critical eye of the National Audit Office (NAO). Full report here.

I will quote the NAO's press release:

"The project to provide an IT system to support a new way of working with offenders was to be introduced by January 2008, and had an approved lifetime cost of £234 million to 2020. By July 2007, £155 million had been spent on the project, it was two years behind schedule, and estimated lifetime project costs had risen to £690 million. The Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice called a halt to the project while options to get the budget under control were sought.

Many of the causes of the delays and cost overruns could have been avoided with better management. There was inadequate management oversight and the technical complexity of the project was significantly underestimated. Budget monitoring was absent and change control weak. In addition, the main supplier contracts were designed in such a way that sufficient pressure could not be brought to bear on suppliers to deliver to time and cost.

In January 2008, the National Offender Management Service began work on a rescoped programme with an estimated lifetime cost of £513 million and a delivery date of March 2011. They opted for the lowest cost approach, which would deliver the Service’s revised needs, although this option did not have the best benefit to cost ratio.

The full financial impact of the delays is uncertain, but it is likely to be at least £41 million; £15 million of which has been spent on aspects of the project which have now been cut from the design. £226 million has been spent on the project so far and roll-out of the system to prisons is expected to commence in April 2009."

The core software is SAP's BusinessObjects XI Release 2. "The C-NOMIS Case Management system is based on a COTS package called TAG from Syscon Justice Systems Ltd under contract with EDS". See article here. And here are links to SAP, EDS (a subsidiary of Hewlett Packard) and its summary of its work with the UK prison service and to Syscon (who interestingly are in the business of prisoner medical records as well - surely the NHS should involve them?).

The NAO is not impressed. I am sure questions will be asked in Parliament.

So Dr Crippen, Dr Rant, Dr Goldacre et al ... don't think the NHS is the only one being taken for an IT ride.

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