The London Timesreported this week that a new Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) IT project meant to save £15 million a year by transforming the MPS human resource function is now at least £10 million over budget and a year late.

According to the Times, the original $38 million effort is now projected to cost at least $48 million, and instead of being delivered last December, is now being promised "sometime" later this year.

The contract for the project was awarded to the French firm Steria in July 2008. According a Steria UK press release at the time,

"The contract will support a significant improvement in the delivery of the MPS’s HR service, and will drive cost savings through the creation of a new HR Service Centre in Central London and implementation of HR business partnering. The MPS expects to generate significant efficiencies to release additional funds for front line policing. In addition, the new system will help the MPS improve the quality and consistency of the service, bring the ratio of HR professionals to employees in line with the public sector, and more effectively support the strategic aims of the organisation."

The Times says that, "Sir Paul Stephenson, the Met commissioner, has been dragged into crisis meetings over the delays, and the force has taken legal advice over the future of the contract with Steria."

However, the Times also says that the current thinking at the MPS is that the cost of litigation would be more than the cost of fixing the project's problems - assuming that they can indeed be fixed.

At the time of the contract award, Martin Tiplady, HR Director, Metropolitan Police Service said that,

"The HR requirements of the MPS are different to those of other organisations. Finding a strategic partner that understood the unique needs of our service, from the organisational structure to our culture, was vital. Steria demonstrated not only the capability to work with us through the changes that the upgrade to our service would create, but a genuine ability to deliver real cost and efficiency benefits, and the best possible HR service for our employees."

But by the spring of last year, apparently Director Tiplady was having concerns about the project. Costs had already crept up by £4 million, and he was quoted in an interview last May in HR Magazine as saying, "Until we have tested the new technological platform I can't really sleep."

Given the current circumstances, Mr. Tiplady must be one especially sleep-deprived person.

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