Met at 'huge risk' of botching its Sopra Steria outsourcing contract

Watchdog raises concerns over £216m deal that will see hundreds of jobs lost

Plans by the Metropolitan Police to outsource its IT and shunt 445 staff out of the capital via a 10-year £216m mega deal with Sopra Steria present "huge risks", a report by London's spending watchdog has warned.

Last month the force announced that from October 2016 its tech services will move over to the Shared Services Connected Limited centre, which is run as a joint venture between Sopra Steria and the Cabinet Office.

However, a report today by the London Assembly's Budget and Performance Committee, said the Met could risk a high-profile outsourcing failure "similar to the G4S and Serco electronic tagging scandal".

John Biggs, committee chair, said: "The Met could find itself handcuffed to a poor contract or even worse if the deal goes wrong. In particular, the Met must ensure it has the business nous to find the right commercial partners and then manage contracts effectively to ensure Londoners’ money is spent wisely."

"The stakes are very high – no-one wants to see yet another high-profile outsourcing botch,” he added.

The report said the Met needs to be upfront about whether it will allow zero-hour contracts in its own outsourcing deals.

The outsourcing deal is part of the Met's plan to overhaul its expensive and creaking IT, as well as find £800m in savings by 2019-20. It has claimed the deal will save £100m over the next decade.

But the report also raises concerns over the Met’s decision to accelerate its commercial strategy for the deal before finalising it.

Last year the Metropolitan Police splashed £302m on IT, down from £312m the previous year, according to a Freedom of Information response sent The Register.

The force currently employs 672 full-time tech staff and contractors. According to responses to our FOI request, the yearly wage bill on IT staff comes in at £40.1m.

In a forward to the report Biggs also said the deal "raises questions of accountability".

The warnings follow revelations by The Register that the department for Business, Innovation and Skills has pulled out of the Sopra Steria outsourcing deal, embarrassingly citing the costs and risks of the project as "no longer viable". ®

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