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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 November, 2003, 08:56 GMT
Courts project 'disastrous' - MPs
Courtroom
Courts in England and Wales are getting the ICL computers
A 400m government project to supply computers to magistrates courts has been "disastrous", according to MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee said the project for courts in England and Wales was among the worst it had seen.

It said the Lord Chancellor's Department failed to take "decisive action" as costs for the Libra system far exceeded the expected 184m.

It also criticised the contractor ICL, which twice threatened to quit unless it received more money.

Revised contract

ICL, which is now called Fujitsu Services, was the only bidder for the private finance initiative project and had originally quoted 146m.

This is not the first time that Fujitsu has let taxpayers down so badly
Richard Bacon

It raised this by 25% to 184m for ten-and-a-half years, after being named as the preferred bidder.

The contract was signed in December 1998, despite another government project involving ICL being abandoned because ICL wanted more money.

In May 2000 a second contract of 319m for fourteen-and-a-half years service was signed.

This was followed 10 months later by another revised contract, offering ICL 232m over eight-and-a-half years, for providing the computers alone - with software to come from another company.

'Legal action'

Edward Leigh, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: "The handling of this project by the Lord Chancellor's Department was disastrous at every turn.

"Departments must be willing to terminate PFI contracts or take legal action when contractors fail to deliver."

Another committee member, fellow Tory MP Richard Bacon, said the government should think twice before doing further business with Fujitsu.

He said: "This is not the first time that Fujitsu has let taxpayers down so badly."

The Lord Chancellor's Department , now the Department for Constitutional Affairs, said that it had not terminated the contract as it could have led to costly legal action.


SEE ALSO:
Watchdog condemns court computers
29 Jan 03  |  Politics
Criminal justice reshaped
06 Sep 01  |  ppp


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