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Rural Payments Agency

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 23 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Who was responsible for drawing up and agreeing the specifications against which contractors, whether internal or external, worked to set up the information technology systems used for the single farm payments by the Rural Payments Agency; and whether those specifications are in the public domain. [HL1295]

The Rural Payments Agency had already begun a major procurement of information technology systems when proposals for reform of the common agricultural policy were negotiated within the EU. The original specification was intended to replace the software supporting the CAP schemes at that time and new elements such as a rural land register and integrated customer register. After an open tender, Accenture was contracted by RPA to deliver against this specification.

When it became clear that a mid-term reform of the CAP was likely to progress, RPA established a CAP reform implementation project which included representatives of the Defra policy team negotiating the regulatory changes. This led to major changes to the specification for the information technology work that was already under way. The changes involved additional tenders to extract data from legacy systems so that they could be used to inform customers of their historical claims and support the migration of these data into the Accenture-built systems (RITA). The second set of changes were to either enhance existing functionality or introduce new elements into the IT system (RITA), in order to implement the newly agreed single payment scheme.

The original specification for the Accenture contract and the amendments to adapt RITA to the single payment scheme are in the public domain and have been provided to the Efra Select Committee. The tender for the database to extract data from the legacy systems is also in the public domain.