Incorrect Army salaries ‘entirely avoidable’, says MPs’ report

Thousands of incorrect salary payments to armed forces personnel could have been entirely avoidable if it weren’t for “short-sightedness” in implementing a computerised payroll system, an MPs’ report warns today.

The Joint Personal Administration (JPA) system introduced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2006 was found to hold incorrect personal data for between 5% and 10% of all military staff.

The Commons Defence Committee said in a report published today (30 March) that it is difficult to exaggerate the magnitude of the failure of the JPS.

As a result of the failures, some soldiers were short-paid for months, while £28.9m was overpaid to others, the Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts, published by the committee, said.

The report identified “insufficient controls” to prevent errors, leading to significant over- or under-payments.

It said: “The decision to implement the JPA programme through an existing contract, which was clearly insufficient to deal with problems that might arise, was short-sighted.

“The lack of clarity in the design in the system at the outset has led to significant costs being incurred by the department which ought to have been entirely avoidable.”

The JPA was implemented by IT supplier EDS, which has paid more than £500,000 in compensation for the failure of the system, the report said.

EDS has also been linked to several other problematic public sector IT projects, such as the Child Support Agency system, according to Personnel Today’s sister publication Computer Weekly.

The MOD has apologised for the problems, but insists that the £245m system is working better.

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