PracticeAuditSpending watchdog slams court IT system

Spending watchdog slams court IT system

A new computer system for magistrates' courts has cost more than twice as much as expected, and is still not complete, government spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, has said.

Link: NAO to help government meet service targets

The Libra project, which was to have introduced a national IT system in magistrates’ courts, will end up costing taxpayers £390m, the NAO reported.

When the project was first signed off, costs were estimated at £156m.

In a report into the Libra project, the NAO warned that the failure to address weaknesses in procurement procedures threatens to derail other public/private partnerships.

‘Private finance initiative projects may not be workable if few bidders show initial interest,’ said Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, in a statement.

He warned of the dangers of accepting single bidders, and not having contingency plans in place should the contract run into difficulties.

The contract for the Libra project was awarded to ICL (now Fujitsu Services) in 1998, after EDS dropped out of the race.

Costs for the project subsequently spiralled. Last year, the Lord Chancellor’s Department decided to renegotiate the contract with Fujitsu Services.

Fujitsu Services will continue to provide the national IT infrastructure, but the contract to supply the core case management software has gone out to tender again.

In future, contract awards should be subject to assessment of the contractor’s performance elsewhere in government, the NAO report concluded.

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