The Public Accounts Committee today reported on the disastrous history of the Child Support Agency. By October 2006, one in four applications for maintenance received by the Agency in 2003 were still waiting to be cleared, there was a backlog of a quarter of a million cases and around 36,000 cases were simply stuck in the system.
The agency's failure has been close to complete and has had serious consequences. Children and parents are being left in dire straights without proper financial support. The kind of thing the CSA is supposed to be doing, debt collection, is done regularly and routinely by the private sector. Only political management could make such a mess of such a simple task at such expense. The IT system alone is behind schedule and its costs have risen to £1.1 billion. As the report says the "the Department did not maintain the capability to be an intelligent customer". An IT project on the scale of the CSA's system needs to be managed by "a cadre of high calibre IT professionals" instead it was managed by politicians and generalist civil servants.