Magazine article Public Finance

Defective IT Systems Lead to Soaring Costs at Child Maintenance Agency

Magazine article Public Finance

Defective IT Systems Lead to Soaring Costs at Child Maintenance Agency

Article excerpt

Costs are 'mounting alarmingly' at the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission, where failing IT systems have led many cases to be processed by hand, MPs have warned.

The CMEC replaced the Child Support Agency in 2008. Ministers admitted the CSA had 'failed' after being plagued by problems with its original IT system and a £456m replacement - dubbed CS2.

Now soaring numbers of cases are being processed manually after 'getting stuck' in the inherited IT systems, said the Commons work and pensions select committee in a February 24 report. This is despite a £107m upgrade of CS2 as part of a £320m Operational Improvement Plan, launched in 2006.

'We are concerned at the almost exponential rise in the number of clerical cases caused by shortcomings in information technology. The additional costs of clerical administration of cases are mounting alarmingly,' the report said.

The National Audit Office has estimated that, at the current rate of increase, around 108,000 cases would be managed clerically by September 2010 - up from 19,000 in March 2006.

MPs warned this situation was not a 'stable base' for the introduction of a new child maintenance scheme next year - when the CMEC will be forced to run three separate IT systems and its clerical workload. …

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