News

CRB system to cost £150m over estimate

Lindsay Clark

A new IT system at the Criminal Records Bureau will cost the taxpayer £150m more than originally planned - an increase from the £68m overspend published in February - according to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

The system, which was meant to speed up the process of responding to employers’ staff vetting requests, is now expected to cost £395m over the 10 years of the contract. Glitches with systems built by outsourcing supplier Capita and unforeseen changes to business processes in the bureau contributed to the overspend.

The Public Accounts Committee found that systems had not been properly piloted. For example, more requests for vetting of employees working with children were sent to the agency on paper, rather than via the internet or telephone, as had been assumed by the system designers.

The committee pointed out that the cost of the system was now more than that quoted in rival bids for the contract. Committee chairman Edward Leigh said, "The serious problems surrounding the launch of the CRB were a direct consequence of weaknesses in planning."

The bureau and Capita only started to work together effectively once the crisis was upon them, the committee’s report said.

The CRB system

The CRB system was designed to protect children and vulnerable adults by giving employers improved access to criminal records. It went live in 2002, seven months late, and by October that year there was a backlog of more than 300,000 applications.

Some schools had to delay the start of term because new teachers had not been vetted. The backlog has since been cleared but the system is not running checks on all the areas it was intended to.


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