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Home Office wasted shocking £347m on failed IT project

The Home Office spent £347m on its scrapped Immigration Casework (ICW) IT project, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report.

The ICW programme was intended to replace the legacy Casework Information Database; however the project was closed in August 2013 because it was not delivering the planned functions.

The NAO claims this is because there is poor communication within the Home Office, meaning the Department lacks the good quality information it requires to function at its best.

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A new Immigration Platform Technologies is due to be fully rolled out in 2017, but the support contracts for the vital legacy systems expire in 2016 although the cancellation of ICW means staff are dependent on legacy systems.

Home Office staff reported concerns about data quality to the NAO, adding that some information is manually transferred from paper to IT systems, increasing the risk of error.

Besides this, the public spending regulator claims morale is low in the Department and employees fear drawing attention to bad news so issues tend to emerge only at crisis point.

However, the NAO did report some good news – it says that although progress with Home Office technology is varied, improvements have been made in some areas.

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“The Home Office has started making significant changes since the Agency was broken up and has made progress in some areas,” claimed Amyas Morse, NAO head.

“We would have expected greater progress by now though in tackling the problems we identified in 2012 in areas such as specific backlogs and IT.

“Among our recommendations is that the Department prioritise outstanding backlogs and act to prevent the cases that it classifies as unworkable building up into backlogs,” Morse added.

The NAO claims that the new services standards introduced by UK Visas and Immigration have given customers greater transparency regarding time taken to complete different types of Visa application.

It praised the Home Office for prioritising clearing backlogs in this area and making extra resources available to do so.

The report notes that UK Visas and Immigration has successfully cleared all straightforward cases in the areas of temporary and permanent immigration.