The government wasted £830m on the e-borders project, having failed to achieve many of the aims set out in 2003 when the initiative was announced.
The e-borders scheme was meant to provide information on travellers coming to the UK before they arrive in an effort to stop undesirables arriving in the country rather than being caught at the border.
However, the National Audit Office (NAO) said that this had not been achieved despite the project running for over 10 years, and that two of the older systems it was meant to replace are still in widespread use despite their unreliable status.
For instance, as of September 2015, only 86 percent of information on passengers travelling to the UK is gathered before they arrive, compared with a goal of 95 percent by 2010.
“The e-borders programme began in 2003 with an ambition which has remained largely unchanged in the intervening years. It was due to have been completed in 2011,” said NAO comptroller and auditor general Amyas Morse.
"Since we are now in 2015, with the Home Office still not having delivered the original vision after expenditure of £830m, I cannot view e-borders as having delivered value for money."
Furthermore, the government was forced to pay £150m to Raytheon, the original contractor for the project, when the coalition government terminated the deal in 2010.
Another criticism levelled at the Home Office is that its requirements for the data on travellers are not high enough to be adequate for security.
“Data collection and manipulation is at the heart of the entire programme,
but the Home Office has been critically weak in this respect,” the report said.
The report noted that this had improved since 2014, but that processes had focused purely on data quantity not quality.
“Our earlier reports on border functions have consistently identified weaknesses in the use of data for intelligence and performance monitoring, and it is a concern that such deficiencies persist," the NAO said.
"Against this background of poor data management it is unsurprising that the Home Office has struggled to produce robust business cases."
The only glimmer of hope for the government is that the NAO has seen signs of improvement at the Home Office with regards to the oversight of the e-border systems.
"Changes since late 2014 give some cause for optimism with particular improvements in leadership and stakeholder management," the report said.
The failure of the project is another legacy of the Labour government's time in office when it backed several giant IT projects that subsequently failed to deliver any benefits, despite huge costs. These included FiRE Control and the £11bn NHS National Programme for IT.
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