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Departmental IT Projects

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list the IT projects his Department plans to undertake in the next year; and if he will state in each case the (a) expected date of commencement and completion and (b) cost. [151476]

Mr. Wills [holding answer 26 February 2001]: The major information technology projects to be started in the next year are listed in the table.

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Project Description Start date Completion dateEstimated project cost
Correspondence handlingEnhancements to the system introduced in April 2000 for moving and tracking correspondence electronicallyApril 2001October 2001350,000
Infrastructure upgradesReplacement of PCs and serversApril 2001March 20023,000,000

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Following on from the achievements the Employment Service (ES) has made in the last 12 months the ES is committed to improving its main advisory tool, the Labour Market System, which should see major improvements by December 2001 at a cost of £9.2 million.

The Modernising ES programme is already delivering new and exciting ways in helping customers come closer to the labour market, e.g. Jobpoints and Internet Jobbank, and the next steps are for the ES to engage with DSS colleagues on how best to take forward the IT

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requirements of the new agency. This will occur over the coming months.

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list the IT projects currently undertaken in his Department; and if he will state the (a) expected completion date and (b) cost of each project. [151502]

Mr. Wills [holding answer 26 February 2001]: The major information technology-enabled projects currently being undertaken by the Department are listed in the following table.

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ProjectDescriptionEnd dateEstimated cost (£)
Teaching and learning initiatives
UK Online CentresFunding for ICT learning centres in disadvantaged communitiesOngoing100 million
National Grid for Learning (Schools)Further development of the NGfl programme to equip and connect schools, colleges and other places of learningOngoing. All schools to be connected to the internet by 20021 billion over 3 years 2001-04
ICT in Further Education Capital Infrastructure (National Learning Network)The planned investment in ICT will help support colleges as the demand for ICT skills; electronic delivery of learning and access to knowledge and information continues to grow. Colleges will need to take advantage of best practice in the use of ICT, and they will need to exploit ICT to deliver new ways of learning through flexible, attractive and convenient mechanismsOngoing74 million
ICT in Higher EducationProvision to support learning and effective management in HE institutionsOngoing300 million
Connexions card projectTo deliver a multi-functional smart card to young people in further learning, which carries discounts and rewards to encourage their participation and attainment. The project includes an underpinning database driven careers and course websiteAutumn 20016.5 million
WorktrainTo develop an internet portal to job vacancies, careers, work-related learning and training opportunitiesComprehensive service available in 20013.2 million
Individual Learning AccountsThis includes:May 2005 (end of contract)50 million
The implementation of policy for individual learning accounts;
The creation of a national framework for the administration of individual learning accounts;
The marketing and other promotional activity to support and increase take up;
Continued development of ILA policy within the framework of funding for adult learners and wider policy developments
The development of a partnership between DfEE and Capita;
Ensuring consistency between the arrangements in England and the devolved administrations
Learning and Skills Council Information and Business System ProjectTo define, build and deliver the information systems and processes necessary to support the Learning and Skills CouncilAugust 200238 million
Computers Within ReachScheme to give subsidised recycled PCs to low income families and earnersMarch 2001 (end of contract)15 million
Wired up communitiesTo connect homes in a number of deprived communities to the internet and email and to test the impact which this might have to education and employabilityFebruary 2002 (end of contract)10 million
Grid ClubThe creation of a fun learning site for children aged 7 to 11. It will help them learn through communicating and participating in joint activities and through improving their IT skillsMarch 2004 (end of contract)6 million
Learn DirectTelephone help line and website run by the University for Industry providing information and advice to adultsOngoing10 million
Virtual College of School LeadershipA portal that provides the virtual arm of the National College for School Leadership. The NCSL has been launched to provide leadership and development to the School leadership group. It will deliver both face-to-face programmes, including the existing headship training programmes, as well as online developmental and networking opportunitiesMay 2003 (end of contract)2 million
Other departmental systems
European Social FundAdapting systems to deliver ESF in accordance with revised payment methodology and business processMarch 20011.2 million
Sure Start IT SystemSure Start is a cross-departmental initiative aimed at improving local service available to families and young children in disadvantaged areasMid 20011 million
Overseas Labour ServiceTo introduce a series of enhancements including the introduction of emailed applications for work permitsMarch 2002650,000
New Student Support SystemA project to allow students to access an initial application form for financial support electronicallyDatabase and application form available in 2001550,000
Special Education Needs Tribunals System Re-writeRe-write of the system to meet new tribunal regulations which will result in a fundamental change to the way that appeals are managedMarch 2001500,000
Voluntary Aided Schools Information System (VASIS) Phase 2Enhancement to the VASIS system which will provide the capability to receive and approve grant claims electronically and provide on-line access to schools and LEAsSeptember 2001350,000
GTC Database (Releases 3-5)Further releases which will provide for the collection of key data on teachers and fee collectionMarch 2001300,000
Standards Fund SystemDevelopment of the existing system to enable LEAs to make electronic claims against the Standards FundMarch 2001250,000
Publications Database (Phase 2)Enhancements, which will improve our ability to monitor progress against targetsSeptember 2001150,000
Neighbourhood Support Fund DatabaseSystem required to monitor and evaluate the performance of the NSF projects and Managing Agents in delivering the ProgrammeFebruary 2001150,000
DfEE Correspondence Handling SystemThe development and implementation of a computerised system for managing the Department's wide ranging correspondence in order to improve on its performance targets as per the Whitehall Standards--2.5 million
DfEE Infrastructure upgradesReplacement of PCs, fileservers and softwareMarch 20014 million

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Employment Services

The Employment Service's modernisation programme has made remarkable achievements in less than 12 months. The ES now has a modern IT infrastructure in its 1,000 Jobcentres. A national jobs database has been created with around 400,000 vacancies. That database is available to anyone with internet access through the Employment Service website.

Job points have been installed in 12 Jobcentres. Job points are state-of-the-art touch-screen kiosks through which Jobcentre customers can search the national database. Early indications from these pilots are that job points are popular and successful and it is intended that they will be rolled out nationally to all Jobcentres from March this year.

The Employment Service is also establishing a network of 11 customer services centres to take vacancies from employers through a single telephone number, by fax or by e-mail. They will provide employers with 24-hour electronic access to Jobcentre recruitment services. This new service is expected to come on line in the next few months.

The Employment Service is also managing the transfer of Work Based Learning for Adults in April 2001 from the TECs and this will result in the implementation of a new contracting and funding system in April 2001 which will encourage closer working with ES's programme providers.

These achievements have been part of a fully integrated programme of change valued at some £816 million, which has already seen a vast improvement in the way ES conducts its business.

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