Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 30th March 2006.

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Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay Labour, Thurrock

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 March 2006, Official Report, column 574W, on PRISM, what share of the responsibility he considers (a) his Department and (b) the supplier had for not anticipating the problems faced by posts using satellite communications; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Foreign Secretary

It was expected that PRISM performance would be slower at satellite posts. For this reason, Cape Town, a satellite post, was chosen as a PRISM pilot ahead of the main rollout. This post was able to use the system effectively, as were many satellite posts in the early rollout to Europe and the Americas. However, as the rollout progressed, it became evident that performance was poorer at more satellite posts than was acceptable.

The interaction of PRISM and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's communications infrastructure is complex. We have worked closely with the supplier, Capgemini, to consider how to deploy PRISM over our infrastructure. We continue to work with both the supplier and Oracle to analyse and address performance problems. It is not a question of apportioning blame, but of working together to improve performance.

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