There were a number of significant issues with the Futures Programme over its lifetime which led to concerns over the Rural Payments and Services IT Platform that has been developed. On the instruction of the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and the Rural Economy, officials commissioned an independent Technical Assurance Review of the IT Platform.
The objective of the review was to verify that the technical environment that is now in place, and the processes that have been established to maintain and enhance it, are sustainable for current and future needs, and are in line with industry standards.
The review was jointly commissioned by the Head of Information Services Division, within ARE and the SG's Office of the Chief Information Officer.
After an open procurement, Fujitsu UK was awarded the contract to undertake the review. The bulk of the review took place over the period January/February 2017, with deeper dive work continuing into March.
The review took the form of examining documentation, accessing code and data structures and interviewing many individuals involved in the delivery and support of the IT Platform (this included IT professionals working for SG and for the main contractors as well as business representatives). The review was extensive and effectively split into two phases. The first phase did a reasonably detailed sweep though all aspects. The second phase looked much deeper at the underlying code and the approaches taken to manage issues/problems and maintain the IT Platform. Two deeper analysis documents were delivered along with the main Report.
An Oversight Group was established to monitor progress, and to ensure that the review achieved the required depth, was comprehensive and had full access to all relevant material. The Group had membership from SG (Information Services Division, Rural Payments and Inspections Division and the SG Office of the CIO), the main contractor and two external representatives from NHS National Services Scotland.
The main contractor was fully cooperative with the assurance review.
Following delivery of the draft report and its acceptance through the relevant governance groups in April and May, a joint remediation and improvement programme has been established that includes SG, the main contractor and Fujitsu to:-
- Agree and prioritise the necessary activities.
- Agree who will lead each activity.
- Agree the measures that will used to monitor improvement.
- Agree costs associated with remediation and improvement.
The objective of the programme is twofold. Firstly, to ensure that we have all the necessary industry standard approaches and processes in place that prevents the issues highlighted in the Report reoccurring. Secondly, to rectify those areas that are a legacy of sub-optimal approaches taken earlier in the Futures Programme. Some remedial and improvement work is free-standing while other tasks are being undertaken in the course "business as usual" activity.