UK Border Agency is stuck with legacy IT for Olympics

The UK Border Agency is stuck with legacy IT systems in the run up to Olympics due to Raytheon’s failed e-Borders project, a senior civil servant has revealed.

US company Raytheon was appointed by the government to lead its £750 million electronic borders initiative in 2007, but its contract was terminated in 2010 due to "extremely disappointing" performance.

A Home Affairs committee report published yesterday revealed that as a result of the contract termination, the UK Border Agency is stuck with its legacy IT systems despite facing an unprecedented workload during the Olympics. 

"The fact that we have to use legacy systems at this stage in the period up to the Olympics was effectively forced on us by the failure of Raytheon to fulfil the contract," Home Office permanent secretary Helen Ghosh told the committee.

The Home Office is now working to ensure that those legacy systems are sufficiently resilient to meet demand during the Olympics, Ghosh revealed. It is focusing on "the physical condition of the servers and equipment on both the [passport tracking] Semaphore system and the [suspect detection] Warnings Index System, and ensuring that it connects as well as it possibly can do with the various agencies," she said.

Commenting on the e-Borders programme, committee chair Keith Vaz MP said it had resulted in "the loss of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money."

"[It] highlights the need for procurement to be carried out correctly and to include clear goals for private sector companies. It remains a huge disappointment that e-Borders is not fully in place in time for the Olympics," said Vaz.

Last year, Raytheon sued the UK government for £500 million for terminating its contract. Ghosh said that arbitration between Raytheon and the Home Office is underway, and will continue into next year.

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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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