Headlines: September 29th, 2000

The Department of Social Security has chosen ARCWAY as the preferred bidder for a contract to provide a network and office services for headquarters and local Benefit offices throughout the UK. ARCWAY is a consortium headed by BT that includes Bull Information Systems Ltd and Sema Group UK Ltd.A major weakness of the department’s IT systems is that different benefits are processed on different computers which do not talk to each other. One knock on effect of this is that staff in local council offices responsible for payment of housing benefit have extreme difficulty in verifying claims. It is estimated that the annual loss from fraudulent housing benefit claims is 900 million pounds. The proposed network and office services will make the verification of claims for all benefits simpler and quicker.

The problem of claim verification will not be solved until the ageing computer systems are replaced and a contract for this work has been awarded to AFFINITY. This is a consortium which includes EDS, IBM UK and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Earlier this month responsibility for design, development and delivery of Information Technology services was transferred to AFFINITY together with 1500 staff of the department.