Labour's FiReControl project, launched by then Local Government Secretary John Prescott, has been condemned by a damning Public Accounts Committee report as a 'complete failure' that lost the taxpayer 'nearly half a billion pounds...on costly white elephants' and 'one of the worst [project failures] we have seen for many years'.
This follows a scathing National Audit Office report in July that 'the project to replace the 46 Fire and Rescue Service's local control rooms across England with nine purpose-built regional control centres linked by a new IT system has been a comprehensive failure', 'flawed from the outset' and a waste of 'at least £469 million'.
The Public Accounts Committee report has today concluded that Labour's 'project was rushed, without proper understanding of costs or risks. The leadership relied far too much on external consultants and the frequent departures of senior staff also contributed to weak management and oversight of the project'. It 'ended in complete failure. The taxpayer has lost nearly half a billion pounds and eight of the completed regional control centres remain as empty and costly white elephants'.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) acted to prevent any further losses by terminating the Labour-signed contract in December 2010. This followed warnings from the cross-party DCLG Select Committee in April 2010 that 'the FiReControl project has been inadequately planned, poorly executed, and badly managed...The history of the project is a catalogue of poor judgement and mismanagement'.
Fire Minister Bob Neill said:
"John Prescott's FiRe Control project is the latest in Labour's catalogue of costly IT failures. Not for the first time, hard-working taxpayers are paying for Labour's inability to manage risks and control costs.
"I welcome this report which exposes the absence of basic project management and leadership for a major undertaking. Labour must be held accountable for this comprehensive failure."