The CSA and its computer systems
The CSA and its computer systems - summary
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Parliament and the new computer system
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The CSA and its computer systems - summary

On 20th March 2002 Alistair Darling announced, in Parliament, an indefinite delay to the start of the reformed child support system. The reason given was that the new computer system was not ready. On 22nd May 2002, the Department for Work and Pensions Select Committee took evidence on this topic at considerable length.

These pages draw together various issues about the current Child Support Computer System and its successor as a basis for understanding the importance of the computer system and the impact that the delay will have. topics include:

Various statements in Parliament (from about 1992 onwards) relating to these computer systems:
Statements about the current computer system.
Statements about the new computer system.

Newspaper articles (from about 1994 onwards) that mention these computer systems:
Articles about the current computer system.
Articles about the new computer system.

Some material on the Internet about EDS (the company behind these computer systems), and about the sort of Public/Private contract used for dealing with EDS. This includes earlier problems involving EDS elsewhere in the world.

By implication, this set of pages is critical of the government. The delay cannot be blamed on earlier governments - the current government began the reforms, and must take full responsbility for them.

Throughout the whole reform process the government has stated consistently that it would not introduce the reformed system until the new computer systems were working properly. This strategy cannot be faulted - it was, and still is, precisely the strategy needed to avoid yet another administrative disaster for the CSA.

The fault is that the government failed to manage the introduction of the new computer system adequately, consistently mislead Parliament and the nation, and announced the delay far too late and after notification of the changes had been made to millions of people.

Some see this as some sort of conspiracy. Perhaps a way of saving Treasury money that would be lost with the new system. Perhaps a way of delaying the reduction of child support assessments that will often be the case with the new system. These theories are wrong! The ongoing administrative blunders of the CSA are a vote-loser to any government in power. MPs want CSA problems to be removed from their surgeries. The civil service wants this blot on the landscape removed. The Treasury will get more back in better compliance than it will lose in reduced assessments & the benefits disregard.

Computers are not intelligent.
They only think they are.

Page last updated: 17 December, 2003 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2003