This Full Report from the NAO provides insight into the lessons learned from the Child Support Reforms introduced in 2003. These represented a final but, in the event, unsuccessful attempt to deliver the policy behind the creation of the Child Support Agency in 1993. With hindsight the Child Support Agency was never structured in a way that would enable the policy to be delivered cost-effectively. While the Reforms have benefited a number of the poorest parents and children, overall, they have not secured good value for money and have failed to deliver much-needed improvements in customer service and administrative efficiency.
The highly publicized shortcoming of the programme were due to a number of factors, according to the report: It did not have sufficient internal technical resource to be an intelligent customer of EDS; the Department’s original contracting strategy was inappropriate; it took some time to develop a full partnership with EDS; there were a number of serious governance failures; planning was over optimistic; and a continuing culture of non-compliance with established systems of control.
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