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Another botched IT contract costs taxpayer millions

The SNP government has been embroiled in another costly IT scandal – after it emerged its pensions body needs £23 million in public money after striking a botched contract.

The Scottish Public Pensions Agency negotiated such a poor deal to oversee the IT structure for its 500,000 members, not a single project milestone was met.

The winning bid from firm Capita was “abnormally low”, to the extent that doubt was cast “on whether the contract can be fully delivered” and the Scottish Government body was “required to investigate whether it was a valid bid”.

A rival bidder even launched legal action because the agreement was so bizarre.

Despite that, the SPPA – which deals with pensions for NHS staff, teachers and police – ploughed ahead with the arrangement, and only recovered £700,000 when it collapsed.

That’s after spending £6.3 million on the contract, and then a further £2.4 million on existing IT suppliers after it emerged Capita wasn’t able to hold up its end of the bargain.

Audit Scotland, which has probed the agreement in a report released tomorrow morning, said the SPPA will now need £9.8 million in revenue cash and £13.6 million in capital money from the public purse in the next five years.

The fiasco follows similar IT controversies involving SNP ministers.

A failed IT contract for farming payments starved Scotland’s rural economy of hundreds of millions of pounds three years ago, and continues to cause problems for countryside communities.

And both NHS 24 and Police Scotland have endured IT crises costing the taxpayer millions of pounds in recent years.

Scottish Conservative pensions spokesman Bill Bowman said:

“This is yet another botched IT contract on the SNP’s watch, and it’s costing the taxpayer millions of pounds.

“The nationalists should have learned lessons from similar failings with farming payments, NHS 24 or even Police Scotland.

“But instead, we have another shambles which is draining the public purse when it can least afford it.

“This report poses some serious questions for the SNP government.

“It has allowed this agency to get away with extreme negligence, and seems to have watched on while an agreement which was patently too good to be true was signed.

“The hundreds of thousands of public sector workers whose pensions depend on this organisation deserve answers.

“Their pension payments must not be put at risk by this failing SNP government.”

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