John Gieve, permanent under-secretary of state at the Home Office said, "We have had to learn some fairly painful lessons in IT management over the past 10 years." The Home Office had under-invested in project management, he added.
Gieve also said that inadequate use was made of the Government's Prince2 project management process when implementing the National Probation Service Information Systems Strategy (NPSISS).
Earlier this year a damning report from the National Audit Office said seven different programme directors worked on the NPSISS programme between 1993 and 2000, of whom only two had significant experience of managing major IT projects.
Officials told the committee that some programme directors were unable to cope with the task of developing probation service IT.
Richard Crade, e-business director of the probation service's technology partner Integris, a division of long-term supplier Bull, acknowledged that his firm's relationship with the Home Office had been hit by the personnel changes. He said Integris had suffered as a result of the controversy over the Crams case management system. "The implementation of Crams was extremely difficult and we are tainted by the failure of that."
Crams has already been described by auditors as difficult to use and incapable of keeping pace with changing business needs. It had also proved unpopular with probation officers' union NAPO. A new contract to replace it is expected in 2003 or 2004.
The Home Office recently announced a two-and a-half year deal with Integris to cover support and maintenance of the probation service's IT infrastructure, desktops and the Crams case management system.