Photo of Mark Harper

Mark Harper (Shadow Minister, Work & Pensions; Forest of Dean, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what delays against original IT project timetables have been experienced on IT projects being undertaken by his Department and its agencies; and what (a) the reasons for delay and (b) corrective action taken were in each case.

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw

Jonathan R Shaw (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Disabled People; Minister for the South East), Department for Work and Pensions; Chatham and Aylesford, Labour)

Although the Department does not have any discrete IT projects, it has a number of projects and programmes that include changes to, or new, IT to a greater or lesser extent. We have included in the following table:

The projects and programmes currently on the Department's portfolio where the IT element of the project or programme results in the development and/or implementation of services that underpin the delivery of departmental business.

The investment costs of the project/programme. Costs of running the solutions implemented by the projects and programmes are not included as in the vast majority of cases they are more than compensated for by the financial benefits they generate.

Initiatives that are associated with ongoing system improvements or enhancements as part of business as usual have not been included.

For all programmes or projects the costs and dates reported relate to the total project or programme and not only the IT element.

The following table identifies, in respect of those projects for which there has been a delay on early business case estimates, the programme/project purpose, original planned completion date, latest expected completion date and the reason for any delay.

Overall, the Department has a very strong track record in delivering major and complex change involving IT, of which the successful introduction of the employment and support allowance is the most recent example. But, we are always seeking to improve our project management and governance processes. In particular:

Strict project governance arrangements apply to all significant changes on time scales, scope, cost and tolerances;

At each key stage, projects are reviewed to establish whether they continue to align with business needs;

Requests for scope change are reviewed and often revised to offset the need for other investment through new or separate projects; and

Original assumptions about scope, time scales and costs at strategic outline business case stage are inevitably open to later variation after proof of concept/initial design. At the critical design stage this informs more robust planning of time scales, costs and deliverables which are re-baselined as necessary.

At each stage of this process project plans are subject to rigorous scrutiny to ensure that they continue to fit with Departmental strategy and continue to deliver value for money.

Project Purpose Original planned completion date Expected completion date Reason for dela y
Customer Information System(1) This project will deliver a database of key citizen information to be shared across DWP. The database will complement information currently available in the Department's key customer information systems, i.e. Personal Details Computer System, and Departmental Central Index, and become their replacement. Consideration is being given for wider use of CIS by other Government Departments. September 2007 December 2008 During the design stage of the project, the original timetable was impacted by emerging IT complexities relating to the interfaces between the new system and existing systems in the Department. Additionally decisions were taken to phase data migration from the old to new system to reduce risk and safeguard data integrity.
Central Payments System(2) A modern integrated central payment engine and accounts payable system to improve accounting for benefit/pension payments, reduce risks of service failure, increased speed and efficiency, and information for improved customer service and reduced fraud and error. October 2006 December 2011 During project design, the need for developing additional system interfaces was identified. This was followed by a re-planning exercise and a significant increase in project scope. Contract for delivery was then renegotiated to realign the roles of the Department and the contractor. New contractual arrangements and project deliverables are now in place.
Pensions Transformation Project The programme will transform THE Pension Service, bringing together business and IT change in ways that improve customer service and deliver efficiencies. March 2007 2010-11 Significant changes in phased implementation plans were approved to reduce the risk to operational delivery and customer service. The project is now running over a much longer time period to support implementation.
Method of Payment Reform Programmes Method of Payment Reform Programmes will develop modern, electronic, secure and efficient methods of payments for customers who require payment by an alternate means other than direct payment to bank accounts. July 2008 March 2011 The end-date for the Programme was always planned to be March 2011. An earlier date of July 2008 was reported mistakenly in a previous response. This was the delivery date of an early phase of this programme.
Fraud Referrals and Interventions Management System(3) Fraud Referrals and Intervention Management System aims to deliver modernised Programme Protection activity. October 2007 June 2008 Additional system releases were approved while this project was still in implementation planning phase. This resulted in some months delay to expected completion time scales.
Disability and Carers Service Change Programme This is an overarching Transformation Programme for disabled people and their carers designed to move PDCS towards a business transformation that addresses people, partners, process, and puts the customer experience at the heart of their transformation plans, in line with the wider Departmental Strategy. 2009 March 2010 This project scope was extended to include the child and intervention strategy leading to longer delivery time scales to accommodate additional requirements.
Pension Reform Delivery Programme To co-ordinate, manage and deliver a range of measures and consequential impacts which will establish a new structure for the UK Pension System long term. April 2010 December 2010 Implementation is planned from April 2010, consistent with early estimate of time scales. The date of December 2010 refers to the project closure date.
Document Repository Service This project seeks to support the Department's modernisation programmes through the provision of a document repository to store digitised images of documents received from customers (letters, faxes, e-mails etc.), cutting down paper in the organisation. November 2008 March 2009 March 2009 reflects the project closure date. Implementation of a pilot started in November 2008 as planned.
Provider Referrals and Payment Project Deploy an IT system to automate and e-enable payment transactions between Jobcentre Plus and training providers. April 2009 June 2010 An increased scope was agreed to incorporate policy developments for the flexible approach to New Deal programmes. This will deliver a more comprehensive and efficient IT provider payment support tool.
(1 )Customer Information System (CIS)—The original expected completion date was March 2008 based on the date of the planned migration of Legacy Benefit System data. However, to minimise the risks associated with this approach a phased implementation was planned. The dates for this phased approach are:

Start of Migration—March 2008

Completion of phased rollout—June 2008

Final Technical Release—October 2008

Project closure—December 2008

(2) Central Payments System (CPS)—this project was originally part of the Payment Modernisation Programme but later assumed project status in its own right.

(3 )Fraud Referrals and Interventions Management System—This project has now completed and is closed. The NAO report included, in error, additional expected completion dates in 2009. These were for further system releases and not part of the original system development.

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