MoD accused of ‘totally inadequate’ planning on £7bn IT project

A powerful group of MPs has accused the Ministry of Defence of failing to properly plan a £7.1 billion IT project, leading to cost overruns and severe delays.

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A powerful group of MPs has accused the Ministry of Defence of failing to properly plan a £7.1 billion IT project, leading to cost overruns and severe delays.

The MoD's suppliers, the Atlas consortium led by EDS, were also accused of underestimating the complexity of the software they were asked to deliver on the Defence Information Infrastructure project, an initiative to replace hundreds of existing computer systems with a single new system.

Edward Leigh MP, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, which created the report, said the project was “badly planned in important respects” and remained over budget by about £182 million.

“No proper pilot for this highly complex programme was carried out, and entirely inadequate research led to a major miscalculation of the condition of the department’s buildings in which the new system would be installed,” he said.

Under the programme, which began in 2005 and aims to deliver £1.5 billion benefits, some 150,000 terminals will be implemented for 300,000 users. But the DII project has experienced long delays. Core software systems, such as word processing, were originally supposed to be available in June 2006, but two years later in June 2008, less than half of the requirement had been delivered.

"As a result of these problems, the Department’s existing computer systems have had to be used for longer than intended, with the increased risk that one or more of them will fail," said the report.

By the end of September 2008, 45,600 terminals were running, instead of the 62,800 planned for over a year before.

The main delays came as a result of the programme’s “over-optimistic” assumptions about the condition of its buildings, and the consequently incorrect methodology for installing the terminals, the report said.

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