‘Mishaps’ plague IT project management

The decision to terminate the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) command and control contract with Northrop Grumman is just the “latest episode” in a series of project management “mishaps” according to industry voice Police Market Report.

Mar 31, 2016
By Paul Jacques

The decision to terminate the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) command and control contract with Northrop Grumman is just the “latest episode” in a series of project management “mishaps” according to industry voice Police Market Report.

John Rowland, editor of the monthly subscriber-only bulletin that specialises in police information and communications technology, said “this one had been on the cards for a while”.

“Police Market Report first revealed that the existing Unisys system was getting an extension last September,” he added.

Mr Rowland described it as “elephants passing unseen inside government”.

“Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chair Meg Hillier said as much the other day when she called for tighter project management,” he said.

“Ms Hillier had her sights firmly on Whitehall and picked up on the gloomy note struck by the Major Projects Authority (MPA), which reckons up to a third of major projects may not be delivered on time or in budget.

“Several ‘big ticket’ items in policing are living up to MPA expectations.”Labour London Assembly member and chair of the Police and Crime Committee, Joanne McCartney, said it appears something had “gone seriously wrong” with the MPS project.

“The budget committee has expressed concern in the past on whether the Met or the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) have the skills to manage these specialist IT projects,” she added.

MOPAC cancelled the new command and control technology for being two years late.

A legal dispute has erupted after the new system due to replace the MPS’ current command and control system failed to be delivered by the go-live date – October 2015.

On March 11, 2016, MOPAC terminated its contract with Northrop Grumman for the provision of its CommandPoint™ application.

Police Professional understands MOPAC has so far paid the supplier £65 million to implement CommandPoint.

The current command and control system is now undergoing further modernisation and the MPS is also looking at alternative options to meet its longer-term operational requirements.

Mr Rowland said another “setback” was the flagship Police Scotland scheme with Accenture for core systems that was due for rollout by the end of last year.

“Instead, Hogmanay was piped in with news of a Scottish government project review,” he said.

Mr Rowland said the Government’s new Emergency Services Network – the next generation integrated critical voice and broadband data service replacement for the Airwave mobile communications network – “has also had a messy gestation”.

“It started as a competition and ended with only a couple of runners, after early bidders shied away from technical hurdles,” he explained.

“A great deal rides on its success – with the first ESN roll-outs due within the next 2016/17 financial year.”

Mr Rowland said the PAC blames “lack of in house project management skills for most of the delays and cost overruns”.

“On the police side, the MPS is the first to admit it finds it hard to get the right commercial management talent.

“In the meantime, ministers are starting to breath down necks. Home Secretary Theresa May expressed exasperation earlier this year at the slow pace of joining up ICT. She won’t be encouraged by Staffordshire police and crime commissioner Matthew Ellis, who says hours spent exploring integration opportunities with fire and rescue have yielded scant results.”

• For further information visit www.policemarketreport.co.uk or contact reports@policemarketreport.co.uk

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