The Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to conduct a "major data cleansing exercise" to improve its payroll software, the Joint Personnel Administration system (JPA) following "significant" errors in the payment of allowances and expenses to service personnel.
In the MoD's 2009-2010 Consolidated Departmental Resource Accounts report, permanent under-secretary Sir Bill Jeffrey raised concern over the management and quality of data in JPA. For allowances and expenses payments for service personnel in 2009-10, the report found "a significant number of errors".
"In particular, there are still concerns over the quality of elements of the underlying data set. This has meant that we still have a number of unresolved issues to do with payments and visibility of data on the numbers of Army reservists. As part of plans to address these, the Army will be undertaking a major data cleansing exercise," said Jeffrey in the report.
In March 2009, a Defence Select Committee report found thousands of members of the UK armed forces received incorrect salary payments because of a "catastrophic" computerised payroll system. Initiatives were put in place to improve the £245m system, including the correction of data in service personnel records, extended checking of expense claims and improvements in management information.
While the MoD has reduced the level of likely error from £145m last year, 11% of transactions tested by MoD staff still contained an error in allowances and expenses payments,
"There remains significant further work to be done to ensure that a robust control environment is established and that processes are sound," said the report.