The government is facing calls for an enquiry into the delayed MOT computerisation scheme, following parliamentary questions prompted by a vnunet.com investigation which revealed that the project is now running two years late and £10m over budget.
Following revelations earlier this month that the project was suffering major setbacks, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman John Thurso tabled questions demanding to know how far over budget the implementation had slipped and when it would be finally signed off.
In its replies, the government admitted that so far the project had cost £8.4m, a figure expected to rise by a further £9.6m by the "earliest likely" go-live date next May, a full two years later than originally planned.
Now Thurso is writing to the National Audit Office (NAO) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), demanding an investigation into the problems of the late-running project, which left 1.24 million cars on the road without an MOT.
"It is a scandal that the government has presided over yet another computer cock-up. And this time it could cost lives," said Thurso.
"The NAO and PAC should now undertake a full investigation to ensure the government does not get away with its failed IT excuses again."
MOT computerisation was intended to reduce the number of dangerous vehicles on the roads by making it easier for police to identify vehicles without MOTs.
The £230m, 10-year deal was signed in 2000 with Siemens Business Services (SBS), which will be paid £1.07 for each test over the life of the contract.
With 23.5 million cars tested annually, combined with those currently untested, SBS will earn over £26m a year.
A spokesman for the Vehicle Operations & Services Agency, responsible for overseeing the roll-out, blamed the delays on "complexity of developing the software".
Each of the 19,000 testing stations across the UK will have a PC terminal installed, loaded with software that will automatically feed MOT results into a central database.
"This is the same company that was responsible for the disastrous introduction of the computer system at the Passport Agency in 2000. Then it cost the taxpayer £13m," said Thurso.
SBS was approached for comment but was unable to provide a spokesperson at the time of going to press.
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