The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission – the retitled Child Support Agency (CSA) – has no new system in spite of a £50 million contract being signed two years ago with Tata Consultancy Services.
The contract was intended to replace a failing system at the CSA, built by EDS. Troubles with case processing led to 75,000 cases being managed on paper, and many issues were attributable to problems on the system. In October 2009, over 1,000 problems remained on the old system and 400 were effectively unsolvable with no “workaround” available.
A new report by the Work and Pensions Committee says it has “sought assurances” from the body that the investment in a new system “would continue to represent value for money” and would deliver what is planned.
The delay comes in spite of the body moving away from the EDS bespoke software to a simpler off-the-shelf system. The new system is set to be based around Oracle Siebel customer relationship management and the TCS BaNCS banking software.
The committee warned that the transition to a new system would require “significant resources”, and indicated it was concerned about whether the body had demonstrated it was capable of meeting these challenges.
“The enormous IT problems experienced with the previous child support systems caused huge disruption and distress to parents and this must not be repeated,” it said.
“We request an assurance from the government that CMEC will have the resources and staff it needs to manage the transition effectively and that the new IT system will not be introduced until it has been demonstrated that it works as it should.”
The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission and Tata Consultancy Services had not commented at the time of writing.