£830 million e-borders programme has not delivered value for money, says NAO

4 December 2015

The government’s £830 million e-borders programme has fallen short of targets and gone over budget, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report.

The auditor said the Home Office fell far short of its target to analyse data on 95 per cent of passengers travelling to the UK by December 2010, instead analysing 86 per cent by September 2015.

This was despite opening a new centre in 2010 staffed by people from the Home Office, police and the National Crime Agency.

“The department has not yet built an integrated system and processes are therefore inefficient, with the Home Office unable to fully exploit the potential of the data it is receiving,” said the NAO.

The result of failing to effectively automate data collection on passengers travelling to the UK is “extensive manual effort, duplication of effort, and [to] restrict the use that can be made of travel history records”, added the NAO.

It also forced the Home Office to spend £89 million improving systems that e-borders should have replaced.

“Information about travellers is still being processed on two systems that do not share data or analysis effectively,” added the NAO.

The organisation said the Home Office spent at least £830 million between 2003 and 2015 on the e-borders programme and its successors.

This included £150 million on a settlement with former contractor Raytheon, a US-based technology and defence company, and £35 million on legal costs.

Raytheon’s contract to implement the e-borders programme was terminated in July 2010 on the grounds of failing to deliver milestones.

Between 2011-12 and 2014-15 the department spent £303 million on successor programmes.

According to the report the scheme set over-ambitious goals and lacked a consistent strategy or realistic plan for delivery.

The importance of more than 600 stakeholders such as plane, ferry and rail carriers was underestimated, though the report did add that were signs these relationships were now improving.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The e-borders programme … was due to have been completed in 2011. Since we are now in 2015, with the Home Office still not having delivered the original vision after expenditure of £830 million, I cannot view e-borders as having delivered value for money.”

Home Office immigration minister James Brokenshire said: "Protecting our borders has always been — and remains — our top priority. The e-borders programme was set up under the Labour government and when that contract ended in 2010, our immediate priority was to invest in stabilising the crucial but old-fashioned systems, to tackle the fast-evolving terrorist, criminal and illegal immigration threats faced by the UK."


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