The news came in a draft strategy document entitled HM Customs & Excise E-business Strategy, which was leaked to Computer Weekly magazine. The magazine also claimed the document included an admission that Customs’ IT infrastructure is ‘unsuitable for e-business’.
An ICL consortium made up of Racal, Microsoft and Mitsubishi, which has signed a £500m, 10-year deal with the government, will carry out the upgrade.
The upgrade procedure has been reported as an ‘area of great risk’ and measures have been put in place to cope with potential failure. Certain tasks, which form part of Customs’ e-strategy, are to be outsourced as delays are expected as a result of the upgrade.
Other contingency plans include the use of manual processes and using support from the ‘government gateway’, which forms part of the government’s secure intranet responsible for enabling the government to interact electronically with the public.
These contingency arrangements will mean Customs will not meet its electronic service delivery targets, but they will greatly reduce the risk.
The upgrade of Customs’ IT system is part of the government’s policy of becoming fully e-enabled.
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