Government – MPs scold Andersen Consulting

Andersen Consulting was slammed by MPs this week for its role in implementing the government’s ailing new benefits computer.

In a scathing attack, the powerful Public Accounts Committee labelled implementation of the national insurance recording system a ‘shambles’.

PAC chairman David Davies said MPs had previously voiced concerns that the system had not been delivered as promised and that contingency planning and compensation arrangements were inadequate.

‘The position is now much worse,’ he said. ‘There have been over 1,900 system problems of which three-quarters were unresolved.’

National Audit Office head Sir John Bourn told the PAC he had ‘serious doubts’ the system would be fully operational by its March deadline. Sir John said the NIRS2 system was riddled with errors, with only 330 of the 1,919 significant problems resolved.

Andersen has already negotiated a two-year extension to the deadline and paid the government #3.9m in compensation for late delivery.

Andersen Consulting was expected to tell the committee yesterday that it had met its contractual obligations.

The NAO has also berated three privatisations undertaken by the Cabinet Office.

The sale of Chessington Computer Centre, Recruitment and Assessment Services and the Occupational Health and Safety Agency have been investigated by the NAO as part of its financial audit role.

More than three years since the three entities were sold, final accounts have yet to be produced and presented to parliament.

‘As a minimum, any statutory deadline should be met,’ the NAO said, criticising a lack of ‘effective oversight’.

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