HC Deb 23 January 2002 vol 378 cc970-1W
Simon Hughes

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on the development of the information technology project for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service; whether guidance in the report Successful IT-Modernising Government in Action has been followed in relation to the project; whether the IT project is subject to any oversight by an IT project board; whether the IT system is able to record details of children who are the subject of court reports; whether the system fulfils obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998; and what was the (a) start date, (b) original planned completion date, (c) latest expected completion date, (d) original planned cost and (e) latest expected cost of the project. [28526]

Ms Rosie Winterton

Establishment of CAFCASS as a new, unified service provides an opportunity for improved communication and case management across the service. CAFCASS's IT project has been taken forward in two phases: Phase 1 installation of a national (England and Wales) infrastructure to support the service from launch; Phase 2 development of an integrated system to replace and extend Phase 1 systems and provide improved management information and interfaces with other organisations. The guidance in the report "Successful IT—Modernising Government in Action" has been followed. A Project Board was constituted under Prince 2 project management methodology.

In addition to the Phase 1 infrastructure, CAFCASS inherited systems holding case data from its predecessor services; almost all of which continue to provide operational service. This includes the recording of details of children who are the subject of court reports in the same way they did before CAFCASS's launch. CAFCASS is Data Protection Act registered. Future changes to systems will ensure CAFCASS's continued compliance.

  1. (a) A Support Infrastructure Project was established, under Prince 2 methodology, in June 2000 with the Project Initiation Document issued at end September 2000.
  2. (b) The planned completion date for Phase 1 was 1 April 2001. This was found to be unrealistic before rollout, and revised to 31 May 2001. The planned completion date for Phase 2 was 31 March 2002.
  3. (c) Phase 1 was completed on time in May 2001. A statement of requirements for Phase 2 was completed for April 2001. CAFCASS is currently reviewing its IT strategy to assess immediate and longer term needs in the light of the operating experience it now has. This will include a decision on whether Phase 2 is the best option for CAFCASS's future operation.
  4. (d) Phase 1 was planned at £5.2 million. Early estimates for Phase 2 were approximately £5-6 million. Firm costs have not been established as the project has not proceeded to procurement.
  5. (e) Phase 1 was completed at £5.9 million due to more fit out work being needed than had been expected at many sites. CAFCASS is reviewing the IT strategy on which the future cost of Phase 2 will depend.