The Scottish Government has been accused of keeping details of a botched £60 million police IT scheme “secret” to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.
The i6 project was abandoned earlier this year amid a series of glitches after the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), Police Scotland and technology firm Accenture agreed to end their contract.
In an answer to a parliamentary question, justice secretary Michael Matheson said the Scottish Government had been made aware of the decision to terminate the Accenture contract on June 20, ten days before a public announcement was made on July 1 – the first day of parliamentary recess.
The Scottish Conservatives accused the SNP of trying to avoid scrutiny of the failed project, but the Scottish Government said that was “completely false”.
Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross said: “There’s no question that this looks bad.
“The Scottish Government must have a reason for not notifying the public for a full ten days after the deal was cancelled.
“People will be very suspicious that the news instead sneaked out on the first day of a lengthy summer recess, meaning ministers didn’t have to face up to it. It’s not the first time an IT project has fallen to pieces on the SNP’s watch, and it’s not surprising the party wanted a whole summer to think about it.”
The i6 project, due to bring together more than 100 existing systems from the country’s eight legacy forces, was expected to “go live” in two police divisions in December.
But it became clear there were a series of problems with the project and it was cancelled after an agreement was reached that Accenture picked up the costs.
Earlier this week SPA chairman Andrew Flanagan told The Scotsman there would be no successor to the project, adding it had been “almost inevitable” it would fail.
A spokeswoman for the SPA said: “The decision of the SPA board on 20 June was to give the chief executive of the SPA the authority to conclude commercial and legal negotiations with Accenture on the basis of a contract termination.
“The CEO did not conclude this process until 1 July at which time the contractual agreement was signed, documents exchanged, and a public announcement made the same day. The Scottish Government had no involvement whatsoever in that process.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The timing of the announcement was a decision for the SPA who only concluded legal agreements with the supplier on 1 July. It would have been wholly inappropriate for the Scottish Government to have made any announcement in advance of this.”