Home Office spent £347m on failed immigration IT programme

Home Office spent almost £350 million on a failed immigration IT project to process immigrants’ paperwork, a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed.

The flagship Immigration Casework (ICW) programme was supposed to replace the legacy Casework Information Database and 20 other systems, but the ICW programme was closed in August 2013, having not delivered all the planned functions.

The report notes that poor IT means that the Home Office lacks the good quality information needed to run the business.

Caseworkers, therefore, still rely on a legacy system. Support contracts for vital legacy systems are due to expire in 2016, before the new Immigration Platform Technologies programme rolls out fully in 2017.

Staff across the directorates told the NAO of their concerns around data quality for cases. The report reveals that some data is transferred manually from paper to IT systems, increasing the risk of errors.

Low morale and a fear of drawing attention to bad news were commonplace in the Agency and issues frequently surfaced only at crisis points, the report says.

“The Home Office has started making significant changes since the Agency was broken up and has made progress in some areas. 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 prioritize outstanding backlogs and act to prevent the cases that it classifies as unworkable building up into backlogs,” Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, says.

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