The chief executive of the government’s troubled National Offender Management Service was unable to tell MPs how much EDS has been paid so far for work on the £513 million pound project.
Phil Wheatley also told the powerful Public Accounts Committee that all the people originally responsible for the project, which is running three-years late and twice its budget, had retired from the civil service.
A National Audit Office report in March found that the system costs had doubled to £513 million in a “spectacular failure” of project management.
Wheatley, who took charge at NOMS in January 2008, told MPs that suppliers EDS and Syscon had been badly managed, but added that the situation had been vastly improved.
Nevertheless, when asked how much EDS had been paid under the contract, Wheatley said: “In total I couldn’t tell you what we have paid them.”
A frustrated Edward Leigh, chairman of the committee, demanded: “Give me a rough idea, I want this in public session.” But Wheatley was again unable to answer, promising he would send a note to the committee detailing the information. EDS supplies the base systems on which NOMS has built its applications.
A NOMS review in 2007 concluded that plans for a single database should be abandoned, and instead that three databases with appropriate functionality for prison and probations services should be created.
The government paid EDS £5.8 million to write off development work no longer needed as a result of this change.
EDS is now providing “reasonable service”, Wheatley insisted, adding that like any supplier “they have to be managed well”. The NAO report had highlighted frayed nerves in relations between EDS and NOMS prior to the 2007 review.