Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60
MONDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2001
GIEVE CB, MS
60. How much does the Home Office spend on IT?
(Mr Gieve) I do not have that figure in my head.
(Ms Wallis) The National Probation Service is spending
£20 million this year on IT.
61. But the Home Office as a whole? I know from
this report with which you say you agree that failure to deliver
an IT system
(Mr Gieve) £60 million per year is the Home Office's
own IT system.
62. Then there are the agencies on top.
(Mr Gieve) If you include the police IT organisation,
the prisons and the whole of the immigration service it is considerably
more than that.
63. Yes, of course. The point I am making is
that if it is of profound importance for the organisation that
these projects go right and getting it wrong can have a big impact
on the organisation's ability to provide services to its customers,
then having a handle on these things is obviously critical. Would
you mind giving the Committee a summary breakdown of the IT expenditure
in due course?
(Mr Gieve) I am happy to provide a note. Clearly this
is very, very important to Home Office success in future, not
only in the narrow project management of major procurements, but
also in the project management of other activities.
64. Do you have some idea, at least at a topdown
level, of how many IT projects you have going on at any one time?
(Mr Gieve) We had a list of about 15 major ones, that
is projects over £10 million. We probably have a lot more
besides that of more minor ones.
65. Turning to CRAMS specifically, I understand
most of the benefits of this project were due to be derived from
CRAMS. Who were to be the main beneficiaries of CRAMS?
(Mr Gieve) The main beneficiaries were supposed to
be probation officers doing their job.
(Ms Wallis) The main beneficiaries were indeed meant
to be service staff, but obviously some of the business benefits
were about actually assisting staff to do their jobs better so
we would have expected the wider public in terms of enhanced service
delivery to have a business benefit as well.
66. Am I right that there were supposed to be
terminals in courts as well?
(Ms Wallis) Yes.
67. Paragraph 2.6 says, "The NPSISS strategy
and business case did not make provision for extending the network
to the Home Office Probation Unit or the Probation Inspectorate".
I find that staggering. I should have thought they would be obvious
people to be included.
(Ms Wallis) This reflects the organisation at that
time. The 54 quasi-autonomous fiefdoms who did not see themselves
as part of a single organisation and a fairly traditional policy
unit, the Probation Unit, at the centre. I should point out that
the recovery programme which was launched last year has picked
up speed quickly and produced a number of additional functionality.
We do now have the 42 new operational areas and the centre joined
through that e-mail connection.
68. It also says in this paragraph 2.6, "At
the end of 2000 there was one NPSISS terminal in the Home Office
to facilitate communication with probation services". Could
you say how many terminals there are in the Home Office now?
(Ms Wallis) All of us who have computers on our desks
have that connection. We are able through that communication system
to have contact with anyone who actually has a NPSISS desktop
throughout the organisation.
69. I should like to ask a couple of questions
of Bull first. How do you think you have performed as a company
in relation to this contract or series of contracts?
(Mr Crade) As the NAO report says, the implementation
of the national IT infrastructure was a notable success. Delivering
it to 54 different49 as it turned outprobation services
who each had their own slightly different requirements was quite
a challenging thing to achieve. On the downside is the implementation
of CRAMS which was extremely difficult, far more difficult than
we would have expected. We are tainted by the failure of that
70. You provided what are described as interfaces.
I presume that is some kind of hardware which was so difficult
to use that there are actually health and safety risks.
(Mr Crade) The CRAMS application had an audit done
on it, looking at the health and safety issues and it did not
come out well from that.
71. So that is yes, there were health and safety
(Mr Crade) Yes, there were health and safety risks.
72. Are you the account manager?
(Mr Crade) I was the account manager.
73. I think you have been twice.
(Mr Crade) Yes.
74. What rate of return have Bull made on all
this money you have had from the taxpayer?
(Mr Crade) If we look over the seven years of the
programme, I would have to say that we have lost money on the
75. What rate of return have you been operating
to on the whole series of contracts we are talking about today?
(Mr Crade) Less than we would have expected and less
than the average.
76. I asked how much your rate of return was.
Give me an amount of money or give me a percentage.
(Mr Crade) Just over break-even.
77. Presumably you do not estimate on that but
on a larger rate of return than that.
(Mr Crade) We do.
78. You failed to comply with best industry
practice in relation to 2000 compliance, did you not?
(Mr Crade) In what respect?
79. In respect of the fact that you failed by
1998, as the industry expected you to, to report on the extent
to which this computer gear failed to comply with Y2K.
(Mr Crade) We did provide a report in early 1998 which
highlighted the issues to do with Year 2000. We did that report
at our own cost.
2 Ev 20, Appendix 1. Back