UK border at risk of exposure post Brexit, warn MPs

Whitehall's head stuck in sand about upgrading crap IT


The UK border could be left exposed after Brexit as departments have failed to plan for new IT systems, according to a damning report by MPs released today.

Whitehall is assuming the risks to managing the border will not change immediately when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, and that border checks will accordingly be the same after the exit as they were before, the Public Accounts Committee found.

Given this laissez faire attitude, departments have not budgeted to deploy fresh physical infrastructure at the border over the next 15 months, which in the event of a no-deal scenario could prove to be a big mistake, the PAC added.

Around 30 of the 85 IT systems currently used at the border will need to be replaced or updated in some way, MPs stated. This includes requirements for five entirely new systems and three replacements, along with systems currently provided by the EU.

PAC Chair Meg Hillier said: “We were deeply concerned by the lack of progress on this back-up plan. It is now alarming to note such weak contingency planning extends across Government departments.

“The volume of traffic at the border under current arrangements is substantial: in 2016, around 300 million people and 500 million tonnes of freight crossed it.

“After Brexit, the number of decisions required about people or goods crossing could more than treble and more than quadruple respectively. These figures should concern all in Government and in our view its current approach is not fit for purpose."

Many departments are still negotiating with the Treasury to secure their share of the £250 million available to all departments. The Home Office has received £60m for 2017-18, but remains in discussions with the Treasury about future funding.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has been in discussion with the Treasury since the end of 2016 but, while it has funding for this year, is only now starting to discuss future costs.

HMRC has also said it is still negotiating for £7.3m to upgrade its CHIEF IT system as a contingency option if the new Customs Declaration Service is not ready on time.

The report recommended the Treasury release money to departments more quickly to facilitate preparations for Brexit.

Difficulties in the past delivering improvement programmes have meant that many border processes still rely on dusty IT systems or are paper-based.

To put it mildly, many departments have a poor track record of delivering critical border programmes. The PAC said that "leaves us sceptical that they are up to the challenges of planning for the border post-Brexit, including having enough people to manage it."

For example, e-borders, intended to collect advance passenger information, started in 2003 but was delayed and eventually cancelled in 2010, with the government having to fork out £150m in a contractual dispute. Its successor programme, Digital Services at the Border (DSAB), will not be complete until 2019, some sixteen years later. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Infosys skips government meeting - and collecting government taxes
    Tax portal wobbles, again

    Services giant Infosys has had a difficult week, with one of its flagship projects wobbling and India's government continuing to pressure it over labor practices.

    The wobbly projext is India's portal for filing Goods and Services Tax returns. According to India’s Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), the IT services giant reported a “technical glitch” that meant auto-populated forms weren't ready for taxpayers. The company was directed to fix it and CBIC was faced with extending due dates for tax payments.

    Continue reading
  • Google keeps legacy G Suite alive and free for personal use
    Phew!

    Google has quietly dropped its demand that users of its free G Suite legacy edition cough up to continue enjoying custom email domains and cloudy productivity tools.

    This story starts in 2006 with the launch of “Google Apps for Your Domain”, a bundle of services that included email, a calendar, Google Talk, and a website building tool. Beta users were offered the service at no cost, complete with the ability to use a custom domain if users let Google handle their MX record.

    The service evolved over the years and added more services, and in 2020 Google rebranded its online productivity offering as “Workspace”. Beta users got most of the updated offerings at no cost.

    Continue reading
  • GNU Compiler Collection adds support for China's LoongArch CPU family
    MIPS...ish is on the march in the Middle Kingdom

    Version 12.1 of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) was released this month, and among its many changes is support for China's LoongArch processor architecture.

    The announcement of the release is here; the LoongArch port was accepted as recently as March.

    China's Academy of Sciences developed a family of MIPS-compatible microprocessors in the early 2000s. In 2010 the tech was spun out into a company callled Loongson Technology which today markets silicon under the brand "Godson". The company bills itself as working to develop technology that secures China and underpins its ability to innovate, a reflection of Beijing's believe that home-grown CPU architectures are critical to the nation's future.

    Continue reading
  • China’s COVID lockdowns bite e-commerce players
    CEO of e-tail market leader JD perhaps boldly points out wider economic impact of zero-virus stance

    The CEO of China’s top e-commerce company, JD, has pointed out the economic impact of China’s current COVID-19 lockdowns - and the news is not good.

    Speaking on the company’s Q1 2022 earnings call, JD Retail CEO Lei Xu said that the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic had brought positive effects for many Chinese e-tailers as buyer behaviour shifted to online purchases.

    But Lei said the current lengthy and strict lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing, plus shorter restrictions in other large cities, have started to bite all online businesses as well as their real-world counterparts.

    Continue reading
  • Foxconn forms JV to build chip fab in Malaysia
    Can't say when, where, nor price tag. Has promised 40k wafers a month at between 28nm and 40nm

    Taiwanese contract manufacturer to the stars Foxconn is to build a chip fabrication plant in Malaysia.

    The planned factory will emit 12-inch wafers, with process nodes ranging from 28 to 40nm, and will have a capacity of 40,000 wafers a month. By way of comparison, semiconductor-centric analyst house IC Insights rates global wafer capacity at 21 million a month, and Taiwanese TSMC’s four “gigafabs” can each crank out 250,000 wafers a month.

    In terms of production volume and technology, this Malaysian facility will not therefore catapult Foxconn into the ranks of leading chipmakers.

    Continue reading
  • NASA's InSight doomed as Mars dust coats solar panels
    The little lander that couldn't (any longer)

    The Martian InSight lander will no longer be able to function within months as dust continues to pile up on its solar panels, starving it of energy, NASA reported on Tuesday.

    Launched from Earth in 2018, the six-metre-wide machine's mission was sent to study the Red Planet below its surface. InSight is armed with a range of instruments, including a robotic arm, seismometer, and a soil temperature sensor. Astronomers figured the data would help them understand how the rocky cores of planets in the Solar System formed and evolved over time.

    "InSight has transformed our understanding of the interiors of rocky planets and set the stage for future missions," Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a statement. "We can apply what we've learned about Mars' inner structure to Earth, the Moon, Venus, and even rocky planets in other solar systems."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022