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Affinity, the lead service provider for the department of social ...
Affinity, the lead service provider for the department of social

security, has been awarded the contract to supply the future design,

development and delivery of the department's information technology


This contract provides the opportunity to modernise all of the

department's computer systems. It will provide the public with

improved and efficient welfare services and will drive out fraud and


Affinity is a consortium led by EDS with IBM UK and


The DSS currently spends approximately£200m per annum on the

development and operation of its IT systems. This work will now

transfer to Affinity under a ten year contract. It is planned that

with effect from 1 September Affinity will become responsible for:

- running IT operations

- maintaining and enhancing existing systems

- subject to subsequent contracts, developing and operating new IT


- managing relationships with the department's other

IT suppliers

Commenting on the contract, Alistair Darling, secretary of state for

social security, said:

'We need to replace all our ageing computer systems. That is the only

way to get claims right and keep them right.'

Approximately 1,550 staff - largely based in the NW and NE of England

- will transfer under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of

Employment) regulations from the former Information Technology

Services Agency (ITSA) to Affinity. Affinity has stated that it aims

to expand and develop existing and future functions at the current

geographical locations.

The DSS will retain the responsibility for the strategic management

of the Information Systems/Information Technology (IS/IT) services to

ensure the proper control of current and future IS/IT business.


1. In 1999, the DSS announced that it would establish a close, long

term relationship with three consortia as Service Providers. The

Affinity consortium (led by EDS with IBM as technology services

provider and PricewaterhouseCoopers providing specialist expertise

including finance, accounting and control) was chosen as the lead

Service Provider within these arrangements.

2. Overall, the DSS spends in the region of£300m per annum on its IT

systems, and network services which in 1999/2000 were made up as


Development Services £ 47m

Operations Services £ 154m

Network Services £ 73m

Other (includes support functions) £ 42m

Development and operations services are to be subsumed as part of the

wider outsourcing.


The contract was awarded today for a new computer system for the

Child Support Agency (CSA). A new up to date IT system will play an

important part in delivering the new, simplified child support scheme

due to come in by April 2002.

Patricia Hollis, social security minister, said: 'We want a new

computer system to operate the reformed child support scheme. It will

allow usto calculate the maintenance due in days not months.

'The new computer system will help staff work in new ways by speeding

up and simplifying the process for collecting information from

customers and calculating maintenance.'

CSA staff will be able to take the right action on cases at the right

time - ensuring that money gets to children within weeks rather than

months. It will also ensure that customers calling the agency get

through quickly to staff who are able to deal effectively with their


The computer system being developed for the CSA will deal with new

child support cases by April 2002. Existing cases will be transferred

when the government is sure the new system is working well.

The system will be designed, built, financed and operated under a

private finance initiative contract with Affinity.

Patricia Hollis: 'This contract has far more safeguards than in the

past. In particular if the computer doesn't work we won't pay for it.

We have learnt a great deal from the problems we have encountered

with some other major IT contracts and we built in appropriate safety


The radical reform of the child support scheme will ensure that money

gets to children more speedily and reliably. The complex formula for

calculating child support will be replaced with simple percentage

rates based on the non-resident parent's income (15% for one child,

20% for two children and 25% for three or more children).

The latest government guidelines have been applied to safeguard

taxpayers' money and to ensure that the required system will be

available on time. The DSS will work closely with Affinity and has

robust arrangements to ensure that work is kept on schedule and that

it delivers what is required.


1. As well as replacing the CSA's IT system the government is due to

replace all DSS ageing computer systems. In particular it is:

- building new systems to deliver an up-to-date service to those of

working age, so staff can focus more on helping claimants to find

work rather than simply processing claims

- offering a modern service to pensioners by making more help

available over the phone

- working to combat fraud and error with new IT systems that will

allow cross checking of claims

2. The cost of the development reflected in the contract is around


3. Affinity (a consortium led by EDS with IBM UK and

Pricewaterhousecoopers) is the DSS's strategic partner and lead

service provider.

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