Government accepts PAC criticism of Rural Payments Agency IT

The government has accepted criticism and recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee on the failed IT system for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and other public sector projects.

The government has accepted criticism and recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee on the failed IT system for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and other public sector projects.

Committee chairman, Edward Leigh, said he was pleased that a single individual will handle a farmer's claim under the EU's Single Payment Scheme from start to finish. This makes it easier to track progress on each claim, he said.

A bespoke IT system to handle payments to farmers was scrapped after it failed to work and cost more than £120m, more than £50m overbudget. "The agency has taken steps to revert to 'whole case working' since March 2006 so that each claim is assigned to a member of staff. Further IT system enhancements are planned to improve the service provided to claimants," Leigh said.

The government also accepted it can no longer claim savings by transferring procurement costs to other budgets. This was a result of the PAC's review of the Ministry of Defence's procurement of major defence equipment, which found that claimed savings of £448m were essentially fictitious.

Another change is that the health care system will now focus more on healing patients rather than treating them. "The government is now taking steps to ensure that outcome measures for quality and safety are included in the NHS's new commissioning arrangements for primary medical care," he said.

"Overall, all of the 45 recommendations in the five reports have been broadly accepted by the government," Leigh said.

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