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NAO points to slow modernisation of IT at DBS

01/02/18

Disclosure and Barring Service is still relying on paper rather than moving to a digital process, says auditor’s report

The modernisation of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), including its IT systems, is moving much more slowly than expected, according to a report by the National Audit Office.

Small robot scratching head by WWW symbolIt says its update service, which was launched in June 2018, has been used less than expected but that there is no clear reason why this is so. The original forecast was that it would be used for more than two-thirds of transactions, but it has since been cut to 20%.

“DBS does not believe that either the delay or lower than expected take-up of the update service have stopped it providing an effective safeguarding service, but the Government does not know how many people this information prevented from working with children or vulnerable adults,” the NAO said.

A modernisation programme for the DBS planned for it to move to a new IT system and business processes by March 2014, with further changes to be complete by June 2014. But by September 2017 only part of the first stage had been delivered, and the organisation had no date agreed with Tata Consultancy Services, its prime contractor, for any further modernisation.

As a result, disclosure certificates will remain paper based rather than become fully digital, says the NAO.

Hosting problem

One of the main issues identified in the report is that the original procurement assumed the new IT would be hosted on servers provided by an existing Home Office contract. But the Cabinet Office rejected this as too expensive and instead required the Home Office to use a cloud based service. The implications of this were not discussed with Tata before signing the contract.

There were also delays in transitioning the services from a contract between the DBS’s predecessor organisation, the Criminal Records Bureau, and Capita.

The NAO also says that the wider benefits of the programme are not being tracked. These include an expected improvement in the matching of applicants against police databases.

Another serious problem is that there are no checks on how employers are using the information, which can be highly sensitive, provided by DBS.

The DBS provides services that help organisations working with children and vulnerable adults to check on whether job applicants have a criminal record and could pose a risk.

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