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By Julian Nettlefold

04 Jul 08. The National Audit Office published its report into the Defence
Information Infrastructure (DII) programme, which aims to deliver a single, secure, high quality computer infrastructure across the whole of Defence while maintaining essential operational continuity.

The report acknowledges that the MOD began with a clear vision of the benefits the DII Programme would bring to Defence. Despite the challenges, this vision and the financial aspects of the programme remain intact. Costs remain within 3% of original estimates, DII has already delivered considerable success including:
* enhancement of existing MOD systems;
* delivery of two early new capabilities to forces in Afghanistan;
* introduction of “Single Point Of Contact” help desk facilities providing an improved service to MoD users;
* enabling benefits to be delivered in the Joint Personnel
Administration application programme totalling £972 million;
* delivering terminals in large numbers

The MoD is pleased and encouraged that the NAO recognises that the programme performs well against the checklist in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s 2006 report, Delivering Successful IT-Enabled Business Change.

Permanent Under Secretary of State, Sir Bill Jeffrey said: “The DII is a major programme which is already delivering benefit to our front-line troops and the wider department. I am pleased that the NAO has recognised the essential soundness of the business case, commercial and governance arrangement, and the progress we have made in delivering the system. As the report brings out, we still have some problems to overcome in rolling out the system completely, but we are working hard to overcome these, and will be helped in doing so by the NAO’s recommendations.”

The DII Programme will deliver a single, secure, coherent and high quality computer infrastructure service across the whole of defence: 300,000 users, 150,000 terminals across 2,000 sites worldwide. The current contract runs to 2015 with all new major capabilities in place by 2010.

In the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report, Delivering Successful IT-Enabled Business Change, (HC 33-I, 17 November 2006), a checklist of nine questions was provided to assist Departments embarking on major IT programmes.

The MoD contracted a first stage of 62,800 DII terminals in place at permanent defence sites by the end of July 2007. The NAO report
states that 33,741 terminals were in place at 20 June 2008. the programme has since delivered a further 900 bringing current roll out achievement close to 35,000. At the end of Jun 2008, 34,648 terminals had been delivered, supporting, 97,452 user accounts provisioned at 503 sites and rollout is currently accelerating. However, some elements of the first stage are likely to be completed 18 months later than anticipated at contract award.

In line with OGC principles, MOD believes that the chief measure of a programme should be the benefits it delivers and although late delivery of DII terminals has resulted in delay to the introduction of some more efficient and effective ways of working, the programme continues to enable financial benefits across the department and has successfully delivered early capability to frontline troops.

In spite of rollout delays the associated benefits through other programmes remain in the order of £1.5bn over the 10 year programme and the DII Programme has constrained cost increases to 3%.

When the rumours of delays first appeared, Atlas and EDS briefed BATTLESPACE during DESEI last year. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.9 ISSUE 39, 03 Oct 2007

Underlining the reasons behind the reported delays in the DII Project, EDS Defence told BATTLESPACE that the main reasons for the delay resulted in increased troop deployments due to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the merger of the DPA and the DLO and the myriad of differing software and operati

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