Raytheon has been dramatically sacked from its lead role overseeing a £750m project to provide the secure border control system for the UK after the British government said it had “no confidence” in the US defence and security company.
The decision by Home Secretary Theresa May to publically end Raytheon’s involvement will cause delays in the e-borders project, a major part of government attempts to control immigration and improve security against terrorists.
The project was singled out for early attention by the cross-government “efficiency and reform group” headed by Francis Maude at the Cabinet Office and Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
“The Home Secretary has no confidence in the prime supplier of the e-borders contract, which since July 2009 has been in breach of contract.”
“It has been clear for some time that the way the existing programme was developing gave rise to serious concern. Over recent weeks we have been examining progress and it has been extremely disappointing.”
The Home Office said “critical” parts of the programme were a year behind schedule. The government faces a race to retender the project without causing more long delays
Raytheon said that: “We appreciate the Home Office is operating under significant budget constraints but a default notice is not an appropriate way to achieve the important objectives of this programme.”
The scheme was meant to give border officials early access to electronic passenger details of all people coming into the UK, which could be checked against police, security and immigration watch lists. As well as technical delays, the project has been plagued by doubts about whether other countries would provide passenger information.
The UK Border Agency said the scheme would record who was coming into or leaving the country, and how many, information which is not available under current UK immigration controls.
The previous Labour government had claimed 95 per cent of UK passenger movements would be covered by e-borders by the end of this year, a target that will be missed by some distance.
The Home Office said £188m had so far been spent on the £750m contract. Officials said no penalty fees would be paid because the contract was “terminated for cause”, including late delivery of important milestones such as a National Border Targeting Centre. Source: FT.com
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