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Digital services at the border


The Home Office (HO) has been trying to upgrade or replace legacy IT systems and improve information at UK borders through digital transformation programmes the launch of its e-borders programme in 2003.

But in 2010, HO cancelled its contract to deliver a single e-borders system, citing failure to achieve milestones. In 2014 it launched a new programme, Digital Services at the Border, as a new attempt to achieve its objectives: replace legacy systems still increasingly expensive, difficult to maintain and unfit for the future needs of government, and give UK Border Force officers better information with which to make decisions about people crossing the border.

In a recent report, the NAO says this programme’s success is crucial to delivering overall objectives for national security at the border, but that since its 2014 launch, HO has changed its strategic priorities: to support a broader ambition for a digitised immigration system, and then also to provide the border controls required following the UK’s 2016 decision to leave the EU.

It says that “due to these changes, scope creep and poor programme performance” the Department did not achieve value for money against its plans to deliver digital services at the border, and in 2019 the Home Office decided to reset the programme again: reducing some elements of its scope, adding new elements, and pushing delivery back to the end of March 2022.

The NAO finds that HO has strengthened the programme’s governance, leadership and delivery capability – but has also delayed the programme’s delivery by three years and the additional cost to the taxpayer is £173 million.

The Committee will question senior Home Office and Border Force officials. If you have evidence about the effective, efficient delivery of the Home Office’s Digital Services at the Border programme, please submit it here by 6:00 pm on Monday 25 January 2021.

Reports, special reports and government responses

View all reports and responses
Forty-Eighth Report - Digital Services at the Border
Inquiry Digital services at the border
Committees Public Accounts Committee
HC 936
Response to this report
Treasury minutes: Government response to the Committee of Public Accounts on the Forty-eighth report from Session 2019-21
HC 936
Government Response

Oral evidence transcripts

View all oral evidence transcripts
1 February 2021
Inquiry Digital services at the border
Committees Public Accounts Committee
Oral Evidence

Written evidence

No written evidence published.

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  • Address: Public Accounts Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA