The Government has conceded that it significantly underestimated the cost and scope of its largest ever IT project when it was launched last year - with the total now around £35m over the original budget.
Its ‘Integrated Technology Solution’ programme was initially expected to cost £28m but it will now cost £63m in total.
This week, the Government has announced details of who will deliver the project - which is to update the civil service’s disparate and outdated finance, commercial, people and asset management systems and combine them onto a single, modern platform.
A contract with lead delivery partner Keytree - a subsidiary of Deloitte - was finally signed last month, and only after some eleventh-hour negotiations that had forced two media briefings to be postponed and the project to return to the Council of Ministers to approve extra funding.
But the Government - having whittled down its partners from an initial list of 30 and agreed a contract that runs into thousands of pages - is now confident that it has finally got the right deal in place to proceed with the five-year project.
Asked about the more than doubling of the original project budget, Assistant Chief Minister Scott Wickenden, who has political responsibility for the ITS programme, said: “As always, we have to keep an eye on projects and make sure they are still viable, certainly when a massive pandemic comes into play."
Pictured: “We have picked up rocks and found problems," said Assistant Chief Minister Scott Wickenden.
He continued: “This is the Government’s biggest-ever change programme that will align the whole of government working to the same processes.
“We had to get something in the Government Plan to get funding to start the project but as we have gone through the discovery phase [selecting a partner and then negotiating a contract], we have picked up rocks and found problems.
“We realised that because a lot of programmes were pushed back by covid across many departments, the resources we were relying on to help us deliver this change programme were too stretched to do both this and the work that has been put off by the pandemic.
“We have had to look at it properly, be honest about the challenges we have come across over the last year, and re-evaluate our business plan.
“We are not just putting the blinkers on and trying to stick with the original plan, which would have meant costs running out of control. We are being honest and open about the challenges ahead.
“So, we took the project back to the Council of Ministers. They could have said they weren’t happy with it anymore, but we have made sure that we understand the truth of this programme, and they have given it their backing.”
Deputy Wickenden added that the programme built on the “foundations” laid by the £11m eGov project - which itself went £2m over budget and faced strong criticism from the Chamber of Commerce - which “successfully made every citizen a single source of data” across Government systems.
Keytree will work alongside other partners to deliver the project, including Sysdoc, a ‘transformation consultancy’ and local company Web Administration Resource Management, which will provide additional technical skills.
The value of the four-year delivery contract with Keytree is £19.3m, and the Government will sign a separate five-year £4.9m contract with SAP, who will provide the software.
The Government has also budgeted £5.5m for an external partner - yet to be selected - to manage elements of the programme. Last year, it signed a three-year £2.7m contract with a company called DMW Group to help it select Keytree and the other partners.
For the final two years of its contract, DMW will ensure Keytree and other partners deliver on the terms of the recently-signed deal.
Pictured: The benefits of the ITS project, according to the Government.
Included in the contract is a commitment to add ‘social value’ by training unemployed islanders to give them the necessary skills to join the programme, providing mentoring and business advice, helping to reduce food waste through technology, and working with charities and schools.
The civil servant overseeing the ITS programme, Chief Operating Officer John Quinn, said: “We originally underestimated the scope and costs of the project, particularly when it came to our internal resource - the ability of our own people to join the programme.
“We now expect to have to backfill around 100 jobs or bring in people to perform those roles. So we expect to surge our capacity to deliver the programme, but numbers will return to normal when it is completed.
Although £28m was originally set aside for the project in the 2020-23 Government Plan, this increased to £40m in the 2021-24 plan, which was approved in December.
This year, the Treasury Treasury Minister has approved an extra £7.9m of funding through a budget reallocation. The balance of the programme will be sought from the next Government Plan.
Pictured: “We will surge capacity to deliver the programme," said COO John Quinn.
Mr Quinn added that the project is expected to provide savings of £13m between now and its completion in 2026, and there will be £3m a year of ongoing savings after that.
He said: “The project won’t lead to any redundancies; however, it will lead to a reduction of roles. As an example, at the moment well-qualified staff in finance teams have to manually input invoices into the system; once this project is completed, they will be freed up to do more important tasks.”
Tomorrow: Express delves deeper into the detail of the ITS programme and what the Government hopes it will deliver.
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