Home Office drops border security IT supplier for contract breach

23 July 2010

23 July 2010 | Angeline Albert

The supplier of an IT system designed to help protect the UK from terrorism is to be dropped by the Home Office for failing to meet targets.

Raytheon Systems was contracted in 2007 to build the IT system e-Borders, which tracks passengers entering and leaving the UK and checks details against police, security and immigration watch lists. But the Home Office said of the 200 million passenger journeys estimated to occur every year, half remain unrecorded by the system.

Furthermore, Raytheon Systems is a year behind schedule despite the government’s target of ensuring 95 per cent of annual passenger movements are tracked by the end of 2010.

Immigration minister Damian Green told the House of Commons on Wednesday: “It has been clear for some time that the way the existing programme was developing gave rise to serious concern. Over recent weeks we have been examining the progress of the programme and it has been extremely disappointing. While some elements have been delivered, they have not been delivered on time. Delivery of the next critical parts of the programme is already running at least 12 months late. On top of this there remain risks of further delays, and there is no confidence in the current prime supplier – Raytheon Systems – being able to address this situation.”

To date the Home Office has spent £188 million with Raytheon Systems against a total contract cost of around £750 million. The supplier has been in breach of contract since July last year, Green said in Parliament.

Raytheon Systems said it was disappointed by the announcement. A statement said: “We appreciate the Home Office is operating under significant budget constraints but [this move] is not an appropriate way to achieve the important objectives of this programme. We expect to review this matter with the Home Office at the earliest opportunity to address the path forward.”

It added that the e-Borders programme now screens more than 120 million passenger journeys a year and had significantly improved UK border security from threats of terrorism, illegal immigration and serious crime. “The advanced screening processes we have introduced with our partners has enabled thousands of alerts and arrests since programme inception.”

The government is now seeking a new supplier and expects to stick to the original target of getting 95 per cent passenger movement tracked by the end of 2010. Raytheon will continue to act as supplier until the new provider is in place.

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