Lack of IT and procurement skills puts Fire Service project at risk

The programme that replaced the disastrous FiReControl project is in trouble due to a lack of IT and procurement skills

The programme that replaced the disastrous FiReControl Project could run into trouble due to a lack of the right IT and procurement skills, according to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The original £469m FireControl project, outsourced to supplier EADS, has been widely condemned as a monumental waste of money.

A National Audit Office report slammed the project as a comprehensive failure in July 2011.

Following its cancellation in 2010, the government set out to achieve interoperability and resilience between fire and rescue control rooms at a cost of £81m. This would be achieved through 22 locally led projects to link Fire Services to nine regional centres.

But according to the PAC, the new projects are already costing more than expected and falling behind schedule.

Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said the new programme has already slipped by three months and projected savings are now less than originally predicted. 

“Seven of the 22 projects are reportedly running late and two have been delayed by 12 months. We are therefore sceptical that projected savings, benefits and timescales will be achieved.

“Relying on multiple local projects risks value for money. We are not confident that local teams have the right IT and procurement skills to get good deals from suppliers and to monitor contracts effectively,” added Hodge.

“There is a risk that the Department for Communities and Local Government has swung from an overly prescriptive national approach to one that does not provide enough national oversight and co-ordination and fails to meet national needs or achieve economies of scale,” she said.

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