Sunday, 16 October 2011
‘WASTEFUL WESTMINSTER’ SHOULD LEARN FROM SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY
A parliamentary question obtained by SNP MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has revealed that the cost of a computer case management system purchased by the UK Government for the Child Support Agency has more than doubled from its original budget of £94 million to more than £225 million.
The PQ also revealed that the cost of subsequent improvements to the CS2 system, used by the CSA, have totalled more than £117 million extra on top of the development costs since 2006.
The cost of the CSA system follows revelations over recent weeks that the cost of the Libra IT scheme used by the Department of Justice had trebled from its original budget of £146 million to more than £444 million; while another IT system, purchased for the Passport Agency, had quadrupled to £365 million.
Commenting, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, whose question uncovered the figures, said:
“Given the catalogue of IT cost overruns, we would all be better off if Westminster got a calculator rather than another computer. It seems the Westminster government is incapable of delivering big projects on time or on budget.
“At a time when household budgets are under real pressure, revelations over how wasteful Westminster has been with taxpayers’ money are an absolute scandal.
“Serious questions must be asked about how the cost of the CSA computer system was able to more than double – and the first of those questions should be raised with the former Labour Ministers who signed the contracts.
“When it comes to efficiency, Westminster needs to take a leaf out of the Scottish Government’s book. The SNP Government has pursued a vigorous programme of efficiency and public sector reform that is delivering results and driving improvements. In the first two years of the programme, it has exceeded its targets by £300 million and £400 million. Last year, £2.276 billion of efficiency savings were made - £673 million above the target - through new ways of using resources, collaborating across public services or improving procurement.
“That money is being reinvested in the public sector to deliver frontline services or lever in new efficiencies. This is a level of delivery that wasteful Westminster should learn from.”
1. Details of Dr Whiteford’s question on the CSA IT system can be found at the link below.
Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the original estimate, at current prices, was of the cost to the public purse of the computer system supplied by EDS Systems for the Child Support Agency's payment system; what the final cost, at current prices, was at the time of completion; and whether additional costs have been incurred since completion. 
Maria Miller: The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is responsible for the child maintenance system. I have asked the child maintenance commissioner to write to the hon. Member with the information requested and I have seen the response.
Letter from Noel Shanahan:
In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Child Maintenance Commissioner as the Child Support Agency is now the responsibility of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the original estimate, at current prices, was of the cost to the public purse of the computer system supplied by EDS Systems for the Child Support Agency's payment system; what the final cost, at current prices, was at the time of completion; and whether additional costs have been incurred since completion. 
The question has been assumed to relate to the CS2 child maintenance system, which was built by EDS and went live in 2003. “The cost to the public purse of the computer system” has been assumed to mean the cost of developing the system, rather than the cost of developing and running the system.
The original outline estimate given by EDS (now Hewlett Packard) in 1999 for the cost of the build of the new CS2 system was £94m. This estimate is disclosed in the National Audit Office's (NAO) June 2006 report “Implementation of the child support reforms”. At today's prices, based on the Retail Price Index at December 1999 and June 2011, the £94m translates to £132.2m.
The actual cost of developing the CS2 system was £225m. At today's prices, based on the RPI at April 2003, when the system went live, and June 2011, the £225m translates to £292.1m.
During the Operational Improvement Plan (OIP), which ran between April 2006 and April 2009, a further £107m was invested in development to the CS2 system. This amount was disclosed in the NAO's December 2009 report on the performance of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. At today's prices, based on the RPI for April 2009, when the OIP closed, and June 2011, the £107m translates to £119m.
Following the closure of the OIP, two further remedial releases were made on the CS2 system. The cost of release 17, in 2009, was £4.2m. Release 18, in 2010, cost £5.4m. At today's prices, based on the RPI for December 2009 and December 2010 respectively and the RPI for June 2011, these translate to a total cost of £10.1 m.
2. Details of Dr Whiteford’s previous question to the Home Office can be found at the link below:
3. Last month the Scottish Government announced that savings of 2.2 billion pounds would be reinvested in Scotland's public services, and that Scotland's public sector efficiency targets have been smashed for the third year in a row.
The latest figures show that the public sector delivered 2,276 million pounds efficiency savings in 2010-11, exceeding the target of 1,603 million pounds by 673 million pounds. That equates to 8.5 per cent of the 2007-08 baseline, considerably above the target for six per cent savings for the year. Efficiency savings are reinvested in improving public services.
The Efficiency Outturn report 2010-11 is available at: