Defra was warned two years ago that it was taking a risky approach to developing the new computer system for the Basic Payment Scheme.
The warning over Defra’s methodology is contained in a National Audit Office report on Defra’s 2012-13 Accounts published in July 2013.
In developing the new system, the report says it is important Defra learns from the bungled implementation of the 2005 CAP reform programme.
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Delivery of the new CAP delivery programme would be “critical” to the successful provision of CAP reform, paying farmers accurately and minimising penalties from Brussels, it says.
“Successful implementation of the reform will involve development and delivery of new schemes which will present a number of significant challenges,” warns the document.
Defra would need to work with its agencies and other delivery bodies to ensure successful delivery of the new schemes.
These were expected to be more complex, based on unconfirmed regulations and subject to an uncertain implementation date.
“In addition, the IT element of the programme will be delivered through an agile approach, which involves outsourcing to multiple IT providers.”
The 2013 NAO report acknowledges that Defra had recognised a number of significant risks relating to the implementation of the delivery programme.
But it warns: “It will need a strong relationship between the programme team and other important stakeholders, and appropriate governance arrangements, to ensure that these risks are adequately managed.”
It was also important that the department learned the lessons from the 2005 implementation of CAP reform, the report adds.