MPs have criticised the Fire and Rescue Service's FiReControl IT project, raising concerns about management, a lack of openness and collaboration, and escalating costs.
The project aims to replace 46 local fire and rescue control rooms with nine Regional Control Centres.
The Communities and Local Government Select Committee said severe delays to the project meant staff might end up migrating to new systems during the 2012 Olympic Games - "at the very time that they should be concentrating on the high-profile safety concerns presented by the Games".
In a report released today they called the situation precarious, but said it should not be abandoned because that would cost £8m more than continuing.
The Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) and main contractor EADS have had an "adversarial relationship", the MPs said, with a lack of consultation and collaboration.
Project management was also criticised, with a "rapid turnover of crucial CLG and EADS staff". Many staff in the Fire and Rescue Service are suspicious of or "have deep hostility" towards the project, and both costs and delays have escalated.
The MPs said the department needs to:
• Resolve its contractual dispute with EADS and implement a viable project
• Closely monitor delivery of FiReControl against interim milestones, and examine alternative viable options for delivery to be implemented in case of any slippage.
• Address the shortcomings in its management of the project.
• Consult fully with Fire and Rescue Service staff and professionals in defining user requirements.
• Take further steps to shift the negative perception of the project and to influence fire and rescue authorities to make the positive decision to switch to the new system.
• Provide assurances that the safety and security of the Olympic Games will not be compromised during the roll-out of the new Regional Control Centres.