IT Contracts

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 12th February 2004.

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Photo of Mr Jonathan Sayeed Mr Jonathan Sayeed Conservative, Mid Bedfordshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list information technology contracts in his Department with a value of above £20 million in each of the last 10 years; what the inception date for each system was; when it became fully functional; when it became fully debugged; and what the cost of over-runs has been.

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 26 February 2003, Hansard, column 588W. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Telecommunications Network (FTN) has now been successfully rolled out to 192 posts. Beyond the contracts for FTN and "Prism", the only ICT project which has cost the FCO collectively in excess of £20 million in the last ten years has been our global IT infrastructure, Firecrest. The Firecrest project was led by our principal internal service provider, FCO Services, and was completed in October 2003. The internal costs of the project are considerably greater than original 1997 estimates, reflecting the FCO's decision to expand Firecrest from a limited deployment to some 71 posts into a single, global IT platform for over 200 posts. The replanned project stages were completed on time and budgets were subject to proper internal approvals.

Technical issues have delayed the implementation of the Prism programme (providing financial and human resources systems) by some months. Final preparations are now under way to introduce elements of the programme in the coming weeks, with the full package being introduced at the start of the next financial year.

All systems have required some adaptation and thorough testing before being released, so no significant de-bugging has been required once the systems have been rolled out.

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