Memorandum submitted by the Home Office
updating the Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General
A programme of recovery for Probation IT was
put in place during the latter half of 2000. There have been developments
in Information and Technology in the National Probation Service
since that time, with significant developments since the publication
of the NAO report in April 2001.
This note provides an update for the Committee
on three areas of development: the procurement of a new interim
contract to support and maintain the infrastructure when the current
contract expires on 31 December 2001; an amendment to the existing
Integris contract and the increase in staff resources to put the
recovery programme into action.
In addition this memorandum provides clarification
of the financial statements regarding the NPSISS contract.
1. PHASE 1 (INTERIM)
PARAGRAPHS 12 AND
2.53 TO 2.55)
The project to procure a contract to replace
NPSISS after 31 December 2001 was begun in January 2001. The procurement
has been fully in line with EC regulations.
Five potential suppliers submitted proposals
for the Phase 1 contract of which three were short listed: Integris,
EDS and Unisys. Unisys subsequently withdrew from the process.
We announced on 26 October, that Integris has been awarded the
The new contract will begin 1 January 2002 and
run for a period of two and a half years with options to extend
in six month periods up to a maximum of four years. It is to be
known as STEPSStandard Technical Environment for the Probation
The Phase 1 contract will provide:
- support and maintenance of the infrastructure
including support for those areas not covered by NPSISS
- a technology upgrade and subsequent technology
- a higher performance, more robust infrastructure
which will support new applications developments
Since the publication of the NAO report one
amendment to the existing purchase order has been made. The amendment
ensures that a small amount of high priority work, essential to
the maintenance of the National Probation Service business, can
be carried out.
The work specified includes support to those
probation areas which are amalgamating and supports the transition
from the NPSISS contract to the Phase 1 contract. The amendment
to the purchase order will entail work costing £700k.
Legal advice sought prior to the amendment was
that the amendment was reasonable given that (a) a full and open
competition was being undertaken to procure the new contract and
(b) the work could only reasonably be carried out by the existing
The NAO report highlighted the need for the
resource and skills base in the Information & Technology Group
within the National Probation Directorate to be expanded. Progress
on IT development had been hindered in the past by a lack of staff
with the necessary skills and experience.
The National Probation Directorate's Information
& Technology Group is in the process of recruiting 10 permanent
members of staff to fill senior posts in the Group. An external
recruitment exercise has been undertaken in order to attract IT
specialists to the Directorate. Over 200 applications were received.
This recruitment exercise will be complete by the end of November.
In the meantime, the Information & Technology
Group has grown to 40 staff, being a mix of permanent staff, probation
service secondees, consultants and contractors who between them
have a wide range of required knowledge, skills and experience.
In addition PAD (Production Applications Development) teams have
been established using staff in the areas with the skills required
to carry out work on behalf of the directorate.
The National Probation Directorate believes
that some clarification regarding the agreement of the business
case and the presentation of some figures would be useful in advance
of the hearing.
The strategy business case for NSPISS was endorsed
by HM Treasury in July 1994. The financial appraisal shows total
planned expenditure over 10 years of £110.1 million. This
sum formed part of the Home Office PES settlement.
This provision was higher than the estimated
procurement costs of NPSISS of £96.6 million set out in the
procurement business case because the latter did not include all
estimated local costs of support and training. [Neither the strategy
or procurement business cases included the project management
costs or provision to avoid Y2K problems].
Table 7 in the NAO report compares the procurement
business case estimates with the total actual costs including
project management, local and Y2K costs (see paragraph 3.3). Some
of these extra costs were allowed for in the strategy business