Goverment avoids customised IT for child support

The government has awarded a £54.7m contract to Tata Consultancy Services for IT systems to support the new UK child maintenance scheme.

The government has awarded a £54.7m contract to Tata Consultancy Services for IT systems to support the new UK child maintenance scheme.

The scheme, developed by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, will replace two schemes run by the Child Support Agency.

Many complaints against the existing schemes are the result of the limitations of underlying IT systems, said Child Maintenance Commissioner Stephen Geraghty.

Indian outsourcing supplier Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which acquired rival Citigroup Global Services for £300m last year, was selected from a shortlist of three companies.

TCS will integrate several proven software applications to support the future child maintenance payment scheme.

The Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission opted for standard software applications to avoid pitfalls like budget over-runs and inefficiency associated with single, purpose-built IT systems.

"In learning the lessons from the past we will not attempt to re-invent the wheel," said Stephen Geraghty.

The collection and payment of child maintenance, he said, is very similar to millions of transactions performed every day by financial organisations around the world.

"We want to draw on that technical expertise and provide future child maintenance clients the kind of service they should expect," said Geraghty.

The future payment scheme is designed to give users online access to information about their case, such as how much they owe or are due to receive.

TCS will provide the underlying IT systems by integrating software applications for case management and assessment, payment calculation and scheduling and financial management.

Software applications will include Oracle's Siebel customer relationship management system and the TCS BαNCS banking software.

Other software will be sourced from Experian, Genysys, IBM and Oracle.

The Commission, which took control of the Child Support Agency (CSA) in November 2008, plans to have the new scheme up and running by 2011.

The scheme will run alongside existing schemes that will be phased out gradually by 2014.

"We will not be rushed into it. The lessons are clear," said Geraghty.

No cases would be migrated from the older systems. Those taking part in the schemes will have to apply to join the new scheme, he said.

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