Army IT failures uncovered in visit to Upavon

Almost £50 million has had to be spent by the government on a new computer system for Army staffing because of failures in existing IT which became apparent after a visit to Upavon recruitment centre.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond had to answer questions in the Commons on the IT problems on Tuesday, telling MPs that about £6.7m spent on the recruitment scheme will have to be written off.

The recruitment partnership programme with outsourcing giant Capita is worth £1.3 billion over ten years but there were problems integrating the existing Atlas IT platform with Capita’s system.

Around 1,000 Army personnel have been put back into recruiting roles as a result of the botched system and temporary solutions to the problems were costing £1m a month.

Mr Hammond made the decision to ditch Atlas in favour of a £47.7m system produced by Capita after visiting the centre in Upavon last year to see the scale of the problems.

He said: “It was clear to me, despite the Army putting in place measures to mitigate these problems in the near term; further long-term action was needed to fix the situation.

“It was agreed in principle at that point the Atlas system was not capable of timely delivery of the Capita-run programme and we would need to take up the option to revert to Capita to build a new IT platform specifically to run their system that will be ready early next year.”

He said the alternative Atlas system would have cost £43m, so the additional cost of Capita’s programme was around £4.5m and of the £15.5m already spent around £6.7m would be written off.

The recruitment programme is partly aimed at removing army personnel from administrative roles but Mr Hammond said the problems resulted in almost 1,000 personnel in recruitment jobs.

The Army is being cut from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020 while the newly-renamed Army Reserve – formerly the Territorial Army – is being expanded from 19,000 to 30,000.

Mr Hammond accepted that potential recruits would have been put off as a result of the IT failings.

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