The much-delayed e-Borders programme, launched in 2003, has come under fire from the Home Affairs Committee, in a report published today.
The report described the programme as “highly problematic”, saying it wasted “millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money”.
The £1.2 billion e-Borders electronic system was designed to carry out checks on everyone entering and leaving the UK, as a key part of Labour’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
In, 2009, the scheme was found to be in conflict with EU rules on free movement, and was also facing a row over data protection. The EU later approved the system, with a condition that it would conform to certain guidelines.
In 2010, the timetable to implement the scheme was called “impossible to achieve“, and the contract with Raytheon was axed due to a breach of contract terms. The US firm later sued the government for £500 million, claiming wrongful termination. Even after awarding new contracts to Serco and IBM in the run up to London Olympics, progress remained slow. However, the government still insists e-Borders should be completed.
The programme is now split into two parts – the pre-Olympic element, intended to make sure at least some parts of the system are in place by July, and the future expansion into shipping and rail transport. The contract for the post-Olympics element, which will be a much more significant undertaking, has not yet been awarded.
“The Committee remains concerned about progress on the programme. The letting of the post-Olympics part of the contract will be a crucial determinant in its overall success or failure,” concluded the report.
“The e-Borders programme, which has resulted in the loss of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, highlights the need for procurement to be carried out correctly and to include clear goals for private sector companies. It remains a huge disappointment that e-Borders is not fully in place in time for the Olympics,” added Keith Vaz, chairman of the Committee.
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