My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mr Rammell, in his reply of 12 December to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt), Official Report, column, 459W, concerning the FCO's IT systems, promised a further announcement on the FCO's Focus Programme.We reviewed all the FCO's Information and Communications Technology programmes earlier this year, in the light of the financial constraints we face. Given the relative low priority of the Focus Programme and a substantial increase in its estimated cost from £23.5 million to £42 million over six years (reflecting significant changes to the scope of the programme which involved a greater training requirement, enhanced security arrangements and, post 11 September, a considerable extra investment in Back-up and Disaster Recovery), we decided to negotiate the cancellation of the contract for the Focus Programme. Agreement was reached with Fujitsu and the cancellation took effect from 31 March 2003.At the point of cancellation, the FCO had spent in the region of £9.5 million on the Focus Programme. From this expenditure, we will retain a global electronic Directory and a facility allowing on-line discussion groups to help cross-departmental team working. The Directory will provide the FCO with savings estimated at £2.5 million over the next five years. We will also be using one of the software licences bought as part of the Focus Programme to develop a new FCO Intranet.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr. Jack Straw)