Home Office slammed over e-borders fiasco

A Public Accounts Committee report has slammed the UK Home Office for its botched e-borders programme, which it says will cost taxpayers over £1bn and still not deliver the desired end-results.

The e-borders scheme started to take shape in 2007 with the aim of improving border security by collecting data of passengers who enter the country by air, rail and sea by gathering and processing data on them before they reach the border.

Delivery of the project was due within 10 years of this launch but the report now says it will finally be delivered eight years late.


Dogged by controversy

From the outset the programme was dogged by controversies. The Home Office initially entered into a contract with technology and defence company Raytheon in 2007, which was ultimately terminated in July 2010. Termination of the deal cost the Home office £150m in settlement charges to Raytheon and £35m on legal costs.

Together with the replacement programmes that succeeded the Raytheon deal, including the Border Systems Programme and Digital Services at the Border, the project has cost the Home Office at least £830m up to March 2015.

The committee said in its report: “It is now five years since the e-Borders contract was cancelled yet the capabilities delivered so far still fall short of what was originally envisaged. Since 2010 the Major Projects Authority has issued seven warnings about these programmes.

“The Department’s complacency about progress to date increases our concerns about whether the programme will be completed by 2019 as the Department now promises, and whether tangible benefits for border security, transport carriers and passengers will result.”


Costing the taxpayer dear

Public Accounts Committee Chair Meg Hillier said: “This is an important Report, revealing a history of poor management and a worrying complacency about its impact on taxpayers.

“It is accepted that successful completion of this project is essential to the security of our international borders. Yet the original target date has long passed and we are still at least three years away from delivery. The stop, start approach has cost the taxpayer dear.”

“I am careful to say ‘at least’ three years from delivery because we are not convinced warnings about the progress of this project have been treated with sufficient gravity, nor that sufficient action has been taken to prevent a repeat of past problems.”

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