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December 3, 2015

Home office wastes £830m in e-borders failure

News: UK Home Office could not deliver the results as promised.

By Nitin Kumar

The e-borders programme by the UK Home Office has failed to achieve its desired result despite spending £830m between 2003 and 2015, according to the National Audit Office.

The programme was set up in 2003 in an attempt to improve border security by collecting data of passengers who enter the country by air, rail and sea by gathering and processing data on them before they reach the border.

However, according to a report from the National Audit Office (NAO), the programme has been slated as "highly manual and inefficient".

In an attempt to implement its e-borders programme, the Home Office entered into a contract with US-based technology and defence company Raytheon in 2007.

However, the contract was terminated citing failure of deliver milestones in July 2010, for which the Home office had to bear £150m in settlement charges to Raytheon and spend £35m on legal costs.

The report by the NAO also reveals that the department spent over £340m on the programme between 2006-7 and 2010-11.

Though NAO acknowledged the fact that the programme developed new capabilities to receive and analyse data on those travelling to and from the UK.

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It said that the quantity of data analysed was not enough, as it only managed to analyse 86% of passengers travelling to the UK in 2015, when compared to the target of 95% by December 2010.

The Home Office also spent £89m on improving vital systems between 2011-12 and 2014-15, which should have been replaced by e-border programme instead.

NAO head Amyas Morse said: "The e-borders programme began in 2003, with an ambition which has remained largely unchanged in the intervening years.

"It was due to have been completed in 2011.

"Since we are now in 2015, with the Home Office still not having delivered the original vision after expenditure of £830 million, I cannot view e-borders as having delivered value for money.

"Some valuable capabilities have been added to our border defences during the life of this project, though their efficiency is impaired by a failure to replace old IT systems."

The report has surfaced at a time when there is high alert across Europe following the Paris attacks.

Reports are also surfacing that up to 800 people may have travelled from the UK to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS, reported Financial Times.

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