e-Borders is the electronic collection and checking of individual passenger details against UK police, security and immigration watchlists. It is a key element of our strategy to deliver robust border controls and it supports our national counter terrorism strategy. It helps to reduce the threat of terrorist attacks, to disrupt cross border crime and to prevent abuses of the immigration system. That is why we made clear in the coalition programme that we support the idea of e-Borders.
It has been clear for some time that the way the existing programme was developing gave rise to serious concern. Over recent weeks we have been examining the progress of the programme and it has been extremely disappointing. While some elements have been delivered, they have not been delivered on time. Delivery of the next critical parts of the programme are already running at least 12 months late. On top of this there remain risks of further delays, and there is no confidence in the current prime supplier—Raytheon Systems Limited—being able to address this situation.
The efficiency reform group has looked at the project as part of its major project assessment review and their view was that the history of the programme was a succession of missed milestones coupled with issues of quality. Since July 2009 the supplier has been in breach of contract and there have been extensive negotiations about a remedial plan; no agreement has been reached.
The supplier’s performance to date has not been compliant with their contractual obligations. As a consequence I have taken the decision to terminate the e-Borders contract. The supplier is required to ensure a smooth handover of services to a new supplier.
The decision has not been taken lightly, but after much consideration. We will now seek alternative providers to secure the key benefits that the contract has so far been unable to deliver. This work will be undertaken as a matter of urgency.
To date and since the project was started in 2007, the Government have spent £188 million on supplier costs against a total contract cost of around £750 million.
What we currently have in place is the software for the collection of data in advance of travel and their subsequent storage; the technology to enable carriers to feed information into a central hub and a National Border Targeting Centre which opened earlier this year and where the information is checked against watchlists and reviewed by the police and border force officers.
Going forward, the e-Borders programme remains a priority. The termination of this contract does not change this. The Government are determined to get value-for-money from its major contracts, and requires the highest standard of performance to be delivered.
e-Borders is part of a wider activity with our partners to check passengers against watchlists before they travel. Security and immigration checks carried out by the UK Border Agency will continue as normal before individuals travel and at the UK border.
The Government are committed to enhancing e-Borders capabilities and to ensuring that we can progress this project in a timely and cost-effective way. Those parts of the e-Borders programme that have already been delivered should continue to run as normal.
We need to know who is coming to the country and who has left so that we are able to stop those who are not allowed to come here. A working e-Borders programme will help us perform all those vital tasks. That is why we have taken this decision, and why we will ensure that the benefits of e-Borders are delivered through a programme that meets its targets, so that everyone in this country is made safer.