Scottish govt mulled scrapping £178m car-crash IT system

Fujitsu report slams Common Agricultural Payments system

The Scottish government has considered scrapping its disastrous £178m rural payments IT system, according to an internal report.

Last week, Audit Scotland said the government could face fines of up to £60 million. "To date, the programme has not delivered value for money," it said.

The Scottish government's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Futures programme started in 2012 as a five-year business change and IT scheme to reform CAP with IT outsourcer CGI, the main supplier of software development services on the project.

IT giant Fujitsu wrote an independent report into the system's failings, which was leaked to The Herald. In it, the company found that quality had been compromised in "many areas" in order to "expedite delivery".

Fujitsu outlined three options for addressing the failings. However, it concluded that scrapping the system and starting again was high risk and would cost up to £40m.

Other options were considered, but the "most appropriate course of action" was improving governance, environmental management, analysis and design. "In other words, strengthening core capabilities that are largely technology independent."

Audit Scotland alluded to the Fujitsu report in its update last week. "An independent technical assurance review highlights that the Scottish Government will need to incur additional costs to improve and stabilise the system," it said.

"Two contracts with existing suppliers, worth a forecast £33 million, have been extended to deliver more functionality and maintain legacy systems. The directorate has not yet fully developed and tested a disaster recovery solution covering all IT systems."

The failings of the programme mirror those of the CAP system in England. That was intended to be a Government Digital Service exemplar, but instead went over budget 40 per cent to £215m, and will incur penalties from the EU of £180m per year as a result of disallowance payments.

A spokesman for Scottish government said: "The Fujitsu review concluded that the system is architecturally sound and should be retained. Its purpose was to verify that the technical environment that is in place, and the processes that are established to maintain and enhance it, are sustainable for current and future needs, and are in line with industry standards.

"The review report was balanced in that it acknowledged improvements that had already been made while identifying what more we should do to improve the system."

A spokesman for Fujitsu said: "Fujitsu is not making any additional comment on the report." ®

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