Alistair Darling, the secretary of state for social security, has given the go-ahead for an ambitious plan to computerise the UK?s benefits system.
The Access to Corporate Data (Accord) procurement project - believed to be worth up to #7 billion - has been approved, and the first contract, to provide the core data repository, has been awarded to a consortium led by EDS and IBM.
The Accord project aims to provide a massive shared systems infrastructure (SSI) for delivery of all benefits across the department?s hundreds of offices, and will be the largest ever government computing contract.
The EDS-IBM consortium, Affinity, which also includes Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Cable & Wireless Communications, will start work immediately on the data repository, and will also bid for other contracts under Accord.
However, it will have to compete with two other consortia for other parts of the deal - Arcway, led by BT, Bull, and Sema Group; and 1Accord, which includes ICL, Anderson Consulting, and Microsoft.
All three are expected to be guaranteed contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds as the project progresses.
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