Siemens will come under fire from the government auditor next month for running up a year's worth of delays and fines in its flagship #77 million development of a workflow application for processing asylum claims.
Full details of the enquiry into Siemens troubled development of a new casework workflow system for the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate are documented in a confidential and critical draft copy of the report from the National Audit Office (NAO), which has been examined exclusively by Computing.
The delays mean that the backlog of asylum cases - at a record 45,000 - is, the NAO warns, "likely to rise".
The definitive account of Siemens' woes emerges in the week of a Commons enquiry into the continuing bugs and delays in the National Insurance database development by Andersen Consulting. Siemens is now under threat of also being summoned to government watchdog, the public accounts committee, for a public grilling.
The delays with both developments, funded under the private finance initiative, have led a clearly disappointed auditor to issue a best practice checklist for PFI projects.
Siemens should have completed the development for the Home Office's immigration and nationality directorate in October 1998. Piloting will now only start this July and is likely to take six months.
An unspecified sum has been paid by Siemens in compensation, although this is described by the NAO as, "a commercial agreement relating, inter alia, to the mitigation of wasted expenditure during the period of delivery."
This raises the fear that the application for handling casework will not be complete before the millennium. The NAO warns: "Many of the IT systems are not compliant with Year 2000 requirements."
Siemens originally signed up to deliver a system based on revising existing software and hired Perot Systems as development subcontractors. But Perot was removed after it emerged last spring that the system did not match the agency's requirements and a bespoke system was opted for.
The report concludes with seven recommendations for IT procurements under the private finance initiative.
Top of the list is a simple warning against over ambition on the part of buying departments: "The department should consider whether the proposed project might be too ambitious to be attempted in one go."
Siemens declined to comment.
For more details on the crisis in government systems development read next week's issue of 'Computing', published on 4 February.
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