CSC may not be fit for government work, ministers warned in NHS disaster report

CSC may not be fit for government work, ministers warned in NHS disaster report

Sharp rebuke delivered to struggling supplier

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The powerful Public Accounts Committee has delivered a stinging rebuke to CSC, by advising the government to give “serious consideration” to whether the IT supplier is “fit” to tender for other public sector work following serious failures on the NHS National Programme for IT.

In nine years under a £3.1 billion contract, CSC has delivered systems to only three acute hospitals, and has missed numerous deadlines. It was nevertheless awarded a £200 million payment by the Department of Health in May.

In a parliamentary hearing three months ago, CSC was asked whether it would complete the rollout to all contracted acute hospitals by 2015. CSC UK healthcare president Sheri Thureen said only that there was the “foundation” to make that possible, and the comment visibly angered MPs on the committee.

Ministers needed to give “serious consideration to whether CSC has proved itself fit to tender for other government work”, the PAC said in a report published today.

The committee argued that the Cabinet Office Major Projects Authority, which is scrutinising the work, must closely watch CSC’s current negotiations for a new contract, particularly given its dominant position in the North, Midlands and East areas.

Similar discussions with the other supplier, BT, saw that company’s contract value cut by only seven percent in return for doing half as much work – and the MPs said that this served as a warning sign.

In May, prime minister David Cameron publicly warned CSC that he may consider preventing a new contract to be signed, if the reviews advised against it.

But NHS chief information officer Christine Connelly told the Public Accounts Committee that it could cost more to cancel CSC’s contract than to complete it. CSC subsequently told its investors otherwise.

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