Edinburgh Council’s new IT system hit by 18-month delay

The IT roll out is 18 months behind schedule.
The IT roll out is 18 months behind schedule.
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A FLAGSHIP council computer system is in disarray with key components up to 18 months behind schedule, the Evening News can reveal.

The £186 million project to deliver everything from event licences to planning permission and even school lessons online was announced with much fanfare in 2015.

But the seven-year project, run by Canadian multinational CGI – the same firm behind the Scottish Government farm subsidies scandal – is mired in problems.

A damning report reveals a “critical failure” – understood to include loss of internet and e-mail – occurs every week and a failure to deliver £6m-a-year worth of savings as promised.

“The report says that’s not happening,” said Labour councillor Gordon Munro, of the savings.

“It’s under-performing and still to realise the benefits and savings envisaged.”

Cllr Munro said the council faced either clawing the money back from CGI or cutting services.

“It’s an issue there and it’s a risk for us because that saving is part of budget planning,” he added.

Tory councillor Joanna Mowat, the council’s governance, risk and best value committee convenor, admitted the fiasco had kept her awake at night – but she is “sleeping slightly better now” as the 
situation improves. Cllr Mowat said problems had been exacerbated by changes at the council, including appointing £101,243-a-year new head of IT, Bruce Strang, earlier this year.

“It’s disappointing that we are having severe teething problems – the new head of IT has come in and been tasked with getting to grips with this,” said Cllr Mowat.

“It’s the infrastructure the council rests upon, if this doesn’t work, it’s as serious as the buildings and having a roof over our heads.”

The decision on whether to claim money back from CGI would be a “commercial” one, said Cllr Mowat, while workshops will be held in private in a bid to iron out glitches.

Delays include a new HR payment system – due next spring – which has fallen behind after a subcontractor had to be replaced.

Lib Dem councillor Kevin Lang said of the report: “It shows a shocking level of under-performance from CGI, not around a few peripheral areas but at the centre of the contract that’s in place.”

Attempts to contact CGI for a comment were unsuccessful.

A council spokesperson said: “Delays have been experienced across several ICT infrastructure projects since the beginning of the contract with CGI, which we are working hard with them to address.”