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National Offender Management Service

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2009

11. What recent representations he has received on the performance of the National Offender Management Service. (263756)

The National Offender Management Service publishes its key targets each year and, from time to time, representations are received about a range of aspects of NOMS performance. I have regular meetings with interested parties and discuss a range of issues relating to NOMS regularly.

Last week’s National Audit Office report on C-NOMIS excoriated senior NOMS management for an information and communications technology project whose lifetime costs have tripled to £700 million in just three years. I exculpate the Minister, who is a very able man of great integrity, but what should be done about the lamentable failures of that ill-conceived, incoherent and incompetent organisation? Perhaps the guilty parties in EDS, Syscon and NOMS could be locked up for egregious negligence as a pilot group in one of the Minister’s fabled titan prisons—if there is one big enough.

I take it from that that my hon. Friend has some concerns about how the project was managed. He mentioned a figure of £700 million. On assuming this office, I took steps to review the C-NOMIS project and to put a moratorium on it when the costs were £155 million, in order to avoid the £700 million bill that I would have expected to receive had the project continued under the proposals at the time. There were difficulties in the project, but we have put it back on track. We have revised the costings, the project will be completed by July next year, at the latest, and thanks to the actions we took it will cost significantly less than was projected in the first place. I take my hon. Friend’s point and I recognise the serious failings that the NAO drew to our attention.