Fire and rescue IT project was “monumental failure”

A failed project to build an IT system for the UK’s Fire and Rescue Service has been pilloried as a "monumental failure from start to finish" by Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee.

Hodge’s remarks followed a report from the National Audit Office which found that the project, which was started in 2004 but cancelled last year, has wasted at least £469 million.

The system had been designed to introduce a regional model for handling emergency calls. According to the NAO’s report, the Department for Communities and Local Government underestimated the complexity of the task, overestimated the benefits, and failed to persuade local response teams of the business case.

The supplier, defense contractor EADS, was also mismanaged, the report found. "The Department did not take suffi cient ownership of the development of the IT system to achieve the required standardisation, delegating too much responsibility for ensuring the needs of services were met to the contractor," it said.

The NAO concluded that FiReControl was a classic overambitious, centralised IT project, of which there were many in the last decade. "At root, this [£469 million waste] has been reached because the Department … decided to try to centrally impose a national control system on unwilling locally accountable bodies."

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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