Andersen refutes charges and slams government as 'churlish'


Andersen refutes charges and slams government as 'churlish'

Andersen Consulting has denied allegations levelled at it in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report published last week which claimed the controversial National Insurance computer system Nirs2 was not yet fully functional.

Based on a hearing in March, the select committee of MPs raised questions about areas where the system was not fully operational, in particular personal and occupational pensions, and said it was concerned that the Nirs2 system would not reach "a steady state" until April 2001.

But Andersen took issue with the findings in the report, insisting that the system had been fully functional when the hearing took place in March.

"We don't accept that criticism. It was fully functional at the time of the Public Accounts Committee hearing," Andersen told Computer Weekly.

"Andersen Consulting's view is that the system is fully functional and up-and-running, and that the Inland Revenue is happy with the progress of the system," a spokesperson for the company added.

The supplier refused to comment on whether or not the Inland Revenue was struggling with a backlog of work due to problems with the system.

The Inland Revenue said the system was already stable with all key functionality available but that business recovery was still under way following earlier delays. The Revenue said it expected the system recovery to be largely complete by April 2001.

Central to the report was the issue of intellectual property rights, which, under the original terms of the contract, Andersen Consulting was to retain, meaning that if the Government wanted to change supplier, the rights would have to be purchased from Andersen.

Commenting on the issue, a spokesman for Andersen said the company had "seriously under-bid its rivals" because it believed intellectual property rights were an asset. "It's a little bit churlish for the Government to come back complaining about intellectual property rights when it got a really good deal," he said.

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