Government accepts blame for Learning Account fiasco

The government has accepted that its contract with Capita for Individual Learning Accounts was flawed and that the IT security...

The government has accepted that its contract with Capita for Individual Learning Accounts was flawed and that the IT security used was inadequate.

The official Treasury Minute replying to a damning House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report makes no bones about the mistakes made in setting up the scheme which collapsed after massive fraud - much of it IT related - was uncovered.

The government said that after a number of major reviews, "The Department for Education and Skills has identified and is applying the lessons learned from Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs).

"In future specialist internal audit and IT experts - in house or bought in - will be involved from the start in drawing up schemes and contracts.''

In relation to Capita, the DES accepted, "There was insufficient clarity in the in the contract about  the ways in which risks were shared between the department and Capita and too many risks remained with the department. Since the closure of the programme, Capita has worked closely with the department to help identify the lessons to be learned."

The government added, "The department is giving much greater attention to, and the highest priority to, partnership management and to sound and professional contract management.''

The DES accepted that the IT security of the ILAs was inadequate allowing  authorised users to access unused accounts.

It promised, "The department will be undertaking reviews of delivery systems that reply on IT to assess the adequacy of the security controls, focusing first on key programmes.''

The department promised new measures to ensure that IT security is "fully and properly addressed'' on future contracts. All future contracts, it promised, "will contain rigorous testing of the contractors proposed IT systems and procedures to ensure that they fulfil and comply with their contractual obligations.".

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