The UK e-Borders Project Failure


By Adam Alam

Sydney, Australia




The e-Borders project commenced in 2003 by the Home Office, which aimed to deliver an immigration control model in the UK that was modern and efficient. Raytheon Systems was awarded the contract in 2007 to implement the £750 million project. However, the contract was terminated in 2010 after the Home Office expressed dissatisfaction towards the execution of the project. No milestone based on the timeline of the project had been achieved by that time. Following the termination of the contract, Raytheon sued the Home Office for wrongful termination. The proceedings led to the award of £150 million to Raytheon plus legal charges by the UK government. The project has cost the UK government more than £830 million for a project that was yet to be delivered according to the original mandate. According to the National Audit Office, it is attributed that the Home Office did not have in place a consistent strategy to deliver the project on such a scale and failed to develop an integrated system that could process all the information it collected. The e-Borders program failed because it did not survive the conditions of its ecosystem, failed to execute the delivery process, and exhibited poor project management practice.


According to Gartner Survey 2012, large IT projects are more likely to fail as compared to small IT projects. Key findings based on the report identified that one-quarter of failures among IT projects that entail a budget of over $350,000 were as a result of runaway budget costs. Comparison of the projects that were below $350,000 and those that exceeded $1 million shows that large IT projects had a failure rate of more than 50 percent. Standish Group identifies a successful project as having been completed within the budget, completed on time, and all functionalities delivered. The report concluded that successful projects were 16.2 percent, projects with partial failure were 52 percent, and those considered to be complete failures were 31 percent.

Border control in the UK relied on procedures and a system that operated on the border itself in 2003. At this particular time, there was the realization that more checks had to be undertaken in advance before passengers arrive in the UK. Also, the same was attributed before persons could leave their point of origin. The e-Borders project was initiated based on these projections (Vaz, 2009). The 2003 vision is quite similar to the current concept of the programme that seeks to make use of traveler information through data collected from passengers that are about to enter or leave the UK (Rees, Lomax and Boden, 2015). Undertaking data analysis in advance before arrival or exit and presenting the results of the analysis to officials at border control can foster informed decision making. Also, the program sought to create records with which authorities can identify “persons of interests” and whether they are in the country, together with their travel patterns. Raytheon Systems Limited was awarded the contract in 2007 to implement the system with an expected timeline for completion in 2011 (Vaz, 2009).

The contract was terminated in July 2010 by the Home Office due to the claim that significant milestones were not delivered. Successor programmes have since been commissioned due to the failure of the e-Borders project. These programmes seek to realize the original vision of the e-Borders project even if the strategy that was set to achieve the objective has evolved over time. This paper will undertake an in-depth analysis to determine the reasons behind the failure of e-Borders.


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About the Author

pmwj40-Nov2015-Alami-PHOTOAdam Alami

Sydney, Australia




Adam Alami is a seasoned IT consultant with over 18 years’ experience. Business Analysis and Project Management is his passion. His experience revolved around major business transformation projects. He is a versetail IT professional. He accumulated a wealth of cross industry experience with Tier 1 businesses in major projects in the areas of Enterprise Transformation, Integration, Migration, and Systems Modernization.

He has a track of academic achievements. He holds a Bachelor degree in Software Engineering from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) and a Master degree in Computing from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

Adam has a passion for research. His research interests are IT Offshoring, Global Project Managements, Banking Technology, Business Analysis, Information Technology and Culture, Enterprise Innovation and Business Solutions.

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://www.adamalami.com/