FiReControl slammed and £84.8m further investment needed

Published:  20 September, 2011

UK command and control project branded a complete failure as wasted tax payers’ money reaches nearly half a billion pounds.

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, has slammed FireControl on the eve of the publication by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts of its 50th Report The Failure of the FiReControl Project. 

The Session examined the basis of evidence from Department for Communities and Local Government and representatives from the Fire and Rescue Service, on the delivery and cancellation of the FiReControl project. ‘The taxpayer has lost nearly half a billion pounds and eight of the completed regional control centres remain as empty and costly white elephants. The success of the so-called FiReControl project crucially turned on the cooperation of locally accountable and independent Fire and Rescue Services. The Department’s failure both to recognize this and try to ensure local buy-in fatally undermined the project from the start.

‘The project was rushed, without proper understanding of costs or risks. The leadership relied far too much on external consultants and the frequent departures of senior staff also contributed to weak management and oversight of the project.

‘The contract to implement a national IT system linking the control centres was not even awarded until a full three years after the project started. The contract itself was poorly designed and awarded to a company without relevant experience. The computer system was simply never delivered. No one has been held to account for this project failure, one of the worst we have seen for many years, and the careers of most of the senior staff responsible have carried on as if nothing had gone wrong at all and the consultants and contractor continue to work on many other government projects.

 ‘The Department now plans to spend a further £84.8 million to secure the original objectives of FiReControl, so that there is a co-ordinated response to national incidents. However it is not clear to us how this extra spending will deliver value for money or achieve the objectives intended.’

FiReControl was launched in 2004, but following a series of delays and difficulties, was terminated in December 2010 with none of the original objectives achieved and a minimum of £469 million being wasted.

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