UK child database costs soar out of control

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UK child database costs soar out of control

The UK ContactPoint database designed to hold details on every child in England, along with their parents or carers, will cost £224m (A$522 million) to build and about £41m (A$95 million) a year to maintain, the government has admitted.

Capgemini has been awarded the £40m seven-year contract by the Department for Children, Schools and Families to set up and manage the database from its launch in 2008 until 2014. 

ContactPoint is touted as a quick way for the more than 330,000 education, health, social care and youth justice professionals to find out who else is working with the same child, making it easier to deliver more coordinated support.

The database will contain basic personal information about every person under the age of 18 in England, as well as contact details for their parents or carers and for services involved with the child.

"ContactPoint is crucial to the successful delivery of the government's Every Child Matters: Change for Children programme and we are delighted to be entrusted with a project of such importance," said John Cummings, vice president for the education sector at Capgemini.

However, children's minister Kevin Brennan has revealed that the ongoing cost of the database is expected to rocket past the original contract price.

"Running costs are estimated to be £41m (A$95 million) per year. Most of this will go directly to local authorities to fund staff to ensure the ongoing security, accuracy and audit of ContactPoint," he said.

Brennan added that progress towards readiness to receive access to ContactPoint is "on track" for an initial deployment to 17 early adopter authorities in April 2008.

ContactPoint is scheduled for a full rollout to all English local authorities, child protection agencies and a group of children's charities by the end of 2008.

An estimated £28.4m ($A65 million) had been spent on the project in 2006 and a further £11.2m ($A25) in the first quarter of 2007.

Commentators have already highlighted the database's potential for misuse, and have branded the scheme "hugely expensive and intrusive".
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