This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication - Western Union memo, 1876
THE UK MINISTRY OF LEAKS, er, Defence (MoD) has squandered millions of pounds on a flawed computer system, leaked documents have revealed, and could end up costing £50m more than initially planned.
The failing IT system named "The Recruitment Partnering Project" is a £1.3bn scheme supported by a hosting boondoggle called Atlas - a consortium of IT vendors comprising HP, Fujitsu, CGI and Cassidian - meant to enable the British Army to recruit online. However, it is almost two years behind schedule and, according to the Times, won't be up and running until April 2015 at the earliest.
According to The Times newspaper, a confidential study performed by analyst outfit Gartner said that the Army's recruitment command chose the wrong bidder to build the system, which proved to be inexperienced and under-resourced.
Almost £15.5m has been wasted on the project thus far and it will cost £1m a month more until it's completed, a leaked briefing note said. Growing frustration at the delays has meant that UK defence secretary Philip Hammond is considering scrapping the project altogether and spending another £50m on top with the project's partner Capita for an entirely new system.
A briefing note sent by MoD director general of finance David Williams to Mr Hammond in December said, "If the ICT hosting solution is not put in place then the MoD risks not gaining the appropriate number of recruits needed. Given recent criticism of army recruitment... and the use of reserves, this would lead to further negative media reporting and reputational damage for MoD."
Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker added, "This leaked report points to the latest series of catastrophic failures at the Ministry of Defence on David Cameron's watch.
"We specifically raised the worrying IT problems and Capita's performance as causes for concern. But the Government recklessly pressed ahead.
"Now we learn that the problems were worse than anyone thought and still haven't been fixed. The blame for this latest fiasco - which is wasting £1m of taxpayers money every month - lies squarely with Government. Philip Hammond needs to get a grip and sort this shambles out."
This isn't the first time that the MoD has thrown money down the drain. Last summer, it came out that the department wasted £40,000 a year on phoning the talking clock, with staff spending 30p a pop to listen to the soothing tones of the speaking clock, despite all efforts having been made to prohibit them from doing so. µ