The government has announced that the new Child Support Agency (CSA) computer system is ready for businesses - nearly a year late and costing £29m more than expected.
The system, which implements reforms to the way child support payments are calculated, was originally due to go live in April 2001 but was delayed for additional testing.
The total cost of the project, the government revealed, has increased from £427m to £456m.
Andrew Smith, the secretary of state for Work and Pensions, said 1,000 staff are now using the system, and 7,000 cases are registered on it. He promised that from 3 March new cases will be loaded onto the system at a rate of 30,000 a month.
Smith denied that the 11-month delay to the system was due to changes in government policy, but said that interfaces with the legacy systems, including ones designed in the 1970s and built in the 1980s, had been more complex than expected.
EDS is to shoulder some of the costs for the delay. "The system has proved to be more complex than had been originally thought, and we have reached a negotiated agreement with EDS to share those costs, with it meeting its share under the contract," said Smith.
"The amount that the government will pay has risen by about seven per cent over the term of the contract."
In December vnunet.com revealed that even after the system goes live, it will take another year before all 1.1 million cases are loaded onto it.
Lessons had been learned from the project, Smith said. "Principal among them is the need to give even closer thought to the specification and management arrangements when the contract is originally concluded."
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