National auditor says Police Scotland and Accenture began to disagree early in the life of the contract for a new IT system
Audit Scotland has pointed towards a loss of trust between Police Scotland and its contractor in the breakdown of the i6 programme to provide a national IT system for the force.
The programme, which was aimed at providing savings over about £200 million over 10 years, was terminated in July 2016 and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) agreed a £24.7 million settlement from Accenture, including a refund of £11.1 million on payments to date.
A report on the programme from the national auditor says that recommended good practice was followed in the planning and procurement of the programme, which led to the award in June 2013 of a fixed price contract of £46.11 million to Accenture.
But disagreements arose within weeks over whether the proposed system would deliver the requirements set out in the contract. Additional pressures arose from public and political scrutiny on the outcomes of police reform, which added to a determination of all parties to deliver the system, regardless of growing challenges.
The two sides reached a contract variation agreement in April 2014, but when the system was passed to Police Scotland for testing in August 2015 it reported some fundamental flaws.
The report says Accenture then estimated that meeting the requirements would need an additional two and a half years. This prompted a further round of meetings that led to the mutual agreement to terminate the contract.
As a result, some benefits of police reform have been, at best, delayed. There are also wider implications for the modernisation of Scotland's justice system and delivery of the Scottish Government's Justice Digital Strategy.
Auditor General for Scotland Caroline Gardner said: "Modern policing faces financial and operational challenges. Given the role that i6 was to play in police reform, there is an urgent need for a frank assessment of Police Scotland's IT requirements, and how these can be delivered alongside the vision set out in the recent Policing 2026 draft strategy."
Image by Dave Conner (amended), CC BY 2.0 through flickr