A new IT supplier won’t be brought in to fix the ‘impossible’ and ‘disappointing’ e-borders programme until 2014, according to the secretary of state for the Home Office's Home Department.
In a written response to Labour MP Frank Field, Mark Harper said that although the UK Border Agency had commenced early engagement with the supplier community, he anticipated that the formal procurement process wouldn’t be initiated until mid to late 2013.
Harper also said that “the UK Border Agency cannot confirm precisely what the final total costs will be prior to the procurement of a new supplier and the agreement of delivery and cost terms.”
E-Borders will enable the government to track almost all non-European Union nationals arriving in the UK and check passengers against security watch-lists.
The UK Border Agency experienced a number of IT headaches related to the original £1.2 billion e-borders programme, which began in 2003. Last summer, the Agency was said to be locked into a binding arbitration process with supplier Raytheon after the company was sacked from the programme in July 2010. Up until being removed from the e-borders contract, Raytheon had been paid £188 million out of its £742 million contract.
The Home Affairs Committee recently branded the programme a 'huge disappointment' in a report on the Home Office's measures to deliver cost savings. In 2010, a House of Commons Committee also labelled the project ‘impossible’.