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Departmental ICT

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 19 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information technology projects are being undertaken by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies; what the (i) start date, (ii) original planned completion date, (iii) expected completed date, (iv) originally planned costs and (v) estimated costs are of each; and if he will make a statement. (209689)

[holding answer 9 June 2008]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is running a wide range of information technology-enabled projects. Some are managed centrally while others are initiated and managed by the holders of devolved budgets, both in the UK or at posts overseas. For those centrally managed projects, and groups of projects marshalled together as programmes around a significant business change, the requested details are shown in the following table:

Current information technology projects (over £2 million) FCO

Start date

Originally planned completion date

Expected completion date

Originally planned costs (£ million)

Estimated costs (£ million)

Future Firecrest (Applications, Infrastructure and Migration)1

February 2005

February 2012

February 2012



Electronic Document and Records Management (eRecords/iRecords)2

September 2004

March 2010

August 2008



FCO Web Platform3

July 2005

November 2008

November 2008



FCO Telecommunications Network(FTN) Private Finance Initiative Implementation and service 2000 to 20104

May 2000

May 2010

May 2010



Ocean (Telecommunications reprocurement)5

October 2007

May 2010

May 2010



Prism Simplification6

February 2008

January 2009

January 2009



Agencies (FCO Services, Wilton Park)


1 The cost of Future Firecrest has been increased by the obligation to implement Central Government security policies instituted after the Future Firecrest contract had been agreed. Savings elsewhere in the programme, of which this forms a part, mean that there is no overall cost increase to the FCO and the programme remains within the budget approved in the business case.

2 The scope of iRecords has been reduced in the light of financial constraints.

3 The scope and hence costs were reduced on examination of the full business case.

4 FTN is a service, chargeable by usage. The additional cost reflects a demand that has increased significantly since the original estimates of traffic volumes were drawn up in 2000. Unit costs have been reduced, but this is obscured in the headline figure.

5 Ocean is led by the FCO; the scope includes the re-procurement of the FTN, but also the cross-Government Managed Telephony Service and the Government Secure Intranet. The programme is still being scoped, and hence is in the process of developing a full project cost.

6 Implementation of the Prism system was completed in May 2006, two months later than originally planned, and the implementation programme was closed at the end of March 2007 following the recommendation of an Office of Government Commerce Gateway Review. This new project is concerned with developing a simplified structure, enabling reduced support costs and simpler business processes. Costs have yet to be formally approved.