Qinetiq sues NPIA after it cancels web portal project


Qinetiq sues NPIA after it cancels web portal project

Tony Collins and Sarah Limbrick

IT supplier Qinetiq is suing the National Policing Improvement Agency for more than £5m after the NPIA cancelled a UK-wide web portal designed to help the public to report incidents and hate crimes online.

The website, cancelled last year, was also designed to allow the public to contact the police during a terrorist incident such as the London bombings, and would have provided secure communications between police forces.

Qinetiq claimed that the NPIA, which oversees national police IT, caused delay and hindrance which prevented the project for a new police portal progressing.

Qinetiq said the agency had failed to provide consistent and timely data needed during the project, and was "routinely failing to return telephone calls, or answer emails and correspondence".

The agency continued to act in breach of contract terms, it claimed. Despite this Quinetiq said it continued to work to resolve all outstanding minor issues, and that tests "re-affirm the suitability of the Police Portal to go live".

The NPIA issued its own writ in February 2008, six months after Qinetiq's, seeking more than £3m in loss and damage from the supplier.

The agency claimed that Qinetiq's system testing had revealed a high number of defects which the supplier was slow to fix.

"The test failure rate in key areas of functionality was approximately 95.5% and it was evident that there were serious issues with the design of the Police Portal including inefficient processes and cumbersome navigation."

The system failed a test to mimic the use of BT portal after the London bombings on 7 July 2005, the NPIA claimed. "The consequences of the Portal failing in such a scenario was potentially very serious," said the agency in its writ.

A judge has deferred a hearing on the agency's writ indefinitely. A case based on Qinetiq's writ is due to be heard in the High Court next April.

A spokeswoman for the agency said, "The Police Portal remains the subject of ongoing litigation in the Technology and Construction Court.  Each party's claim has been set out in its respective statement of case, the most recent of which was filed by NPIA on 19 May 2008."

A spokesman for Qinetiq said, "QinetiQ has issued legal proceedings against the NPIA which are currently extant so we are not in a position to comment further."

The portal was designed to replace a BT-supplied national website, the Police Portal, to enable people to send information to the police by e-mail and mobile phone.

See: Summary of Qinetiq and NPIA writs with regard to the Police Portal, on Tony Collins IT Projects blog

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