The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is set to significantly increase its expenditure over the next two years on a number of major IT projects.
Total IT project expenditure at the DWP is budgeted at £1.9 billion between now and March 2010. But £233 million of this is as a result of an ongoing programme to remedy the now-infamous IT problems at the Child Support Agency.
Project work at the DWP has been completed on a Jobcentreplus CRM system, an online pensions forecast system, a state pension system change, HR and financial system improvements, benefits debt recovery, and replacing legacy benefits systems.
On a central change programme at the DWP, the government will spend £179 million by March 2010, having spent £24 million in the last three years. The programme aims to use lean development to create better customer focus and efficiency, and allow more access to information.
Stephen Timms, minister of state, said in a parliamentary written answer that the government will spend an additional £93 million in the next two years on a central benefits and pensions payments system. It has spent £45 million since 2005 on the system, which aims to reduce service failure, improve efficiency and customer service, and reduce errors and fraud.
On a pension reform delivery programme, aimed at establishing a new IT structure behind the UK pensions system, an additional £82 million will be spent by March 2010, following on from the £13 million in the last three years.
An extra £187 million is budgeted for the same period on the systems behind the new Employment and Support Allowance, which will replace existing Incapacity Benefit and Income Support. In the last three years, the DWP has spent £108 million on the project.
Work has also begun on a system to automate and enable online transactions between Jobcentreplus and external training providers. Some £17 million will be spent in the next two years.
But the government faces significant expenditure as it tries to remedy severe IT problems at the Child Support Agency. Last November, the CSA said it would carry out a large IT upgrade, including crucial fixes to its £450 million EDS CS2 system and telecoms enhancements, as part of its up to £320 million operational improvement plan.
Under the plan, suppliers EDS and BT will pull together interconnected projects, set better targets for IT resources, and train staff on the system. The original EDS system had 500 faults, which were found three years after it was built.
Some £208 million will be spent over the next three years on IT at the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, which will replace the CSA. By 2010, an additional £25 million will go towards IT restructuring at the CSA, following £85 million spent by the government so far.