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Outsource disaster no deterrent for immigration service

Lindsay Clark

The Home Office has handed over the IT infrastucture of the immigration service to Atos Origin in a six-year £200m outsourcing deal.

Atos Origin will take over the design, build and operation of the IT infrastructure of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), including helpdesks, networks and IT applications. It will work with the IND and its other IT suppliers to expand collaborative working and improve IT performance.

"Atos Origin demonstrated to us that it has the expertise and understanding to successfully deliver the IND's IT," said Home Office minister Des Browne. "Investing in its infrastructure is part of the directorate's drive to continually improve the working environment for its staff as well as ensuring value for money."

In February 2001 the government cancelled an IT system intended to help the immigration system clear a backlog of 66,000 asylum seekers.

The IND's Casework Application programme was at the heart of a complex IT and business process re-engineering deal with Siemens Business Services. Siemens took on the public finance initiative contract in April 1996 for implementation by October 1998.

The system was intended to speed up refugee and asylum applications and save the taxpayer at least £110m. The IND finally pulled the plug after a disastrous project, which in 1999 David Omand, then permanent secretary at the Home Office, described as "in effect, a doomsday machine".

Lindsay Clark writes for Computer Weekly


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