Defra plans £80m agile CAP system

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is planning a single integrated £80m Common Agricultural Policy system

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) plans to implement a single integrated £80m Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) system built on agile methodologies.

Defra has been working with the Government Digital Service (GDS) to plan an agile implementation and learn from the lessons of the past, said the department’s chief operating officer Ian Trenholm.

The department will keep aspects of the previous system's legacy, particularly where some CAP schemes will continue to run for several years. The system will replace the troubled £350m single payment scheme at its Rural Payments Agency (RPA)

The National Audit Office had previously found that the complexity of the IT in the current system had led to a huge overspend in the on administering claims.

The new system intends to make CAP applications quicker by using a single integrated online payment platform. The system will also consolidate Defra’s separate CAP systems used by Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

It follows changes in CAP policy in 2015, when the new system will go live. The department will begin procurement over the next few months, which will break the system up into10 separate lots to encourage more SMEs to bid.

Trenholm said Defra was confident in its capability to manage smaller suppliers, and had been working closely with GDS in its experience of using a smaller supplier model and in identifying the risks involved

“If a big system integrator were to bid we would look at that in the context of the other bids, but our experience is that bigger companies tend to struggle to compete with packages offered by smaller companies,” said Trenholm.

“We recognise that in the old world we’d outsource the risk to a provider, whereas now we’re much clearer that the delivery risk rests with us."

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