Customs labelled second worst IT offender

Link: MPs ridicule Customs’ efficiency claims

The all-party group said that ‘archaic’ computer systems were often at the root of ‘disturbing’ administrative failures.

The Ombudsmans Office named the Child Support Agency as the worst offender in delaying replies to requests for information closely followed by Customs and Excise.

In the cases of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, the Child Support Agency and the Legal Services Commission the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee said computer failure was a consistent feature.

In the case of the CSA the Ombudsman remained concerned that the new IT system ‘might not be fit for its administrative purpose’ and even Work and Pensions secretary Andrew Smith admitted the agency was ‘over-reliant on its systems’.

Smith went on to say that the ‘off-the-shelf’ system it bought originally was ‘rather archaic’ and ‘qualifies for entry in a heritage museum’ and he admitting that the CSA had been left having to put up with ‘the somewhat inflexible existing system’.

The Immigration and Nationality Directorate said that IT problems had contributed to the backlog of asylum applications and the increase in these bids had forced the Home Office to build up its IT system ‘incrementally’.

The report reveals that the worst offenders for delaying responses to Ombudsmen’s requests for information was the CSA adding that ‘Customs and Excise have been particularly bad at giving information in recent times although we are only talking about small numbers.’

The PASC said: ‘A problem common to all three organisations is the issue of IT systems. There is a long list of failed IT systems in government, which include schemes for passports and the probation service.’

It added that the new Gateway Process for assessing risk in new projects was a step forward saying ‘we would hope and expect that the mistakes in IT projects revealed by the Ombudsman will not be repeated in future.’

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