Memorandum submitted by Accenture (RPA
1. In April 2001, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA)
embarked on an ambitious IT- enabled business change programme
aimed at improving its services to customers, reducing its cost
base and opening new channels for serving rural communities.
2. To help deliver this change programme, Accenture
was engaged in January 2003 to develop, maintain and support the
RPA's IT system (known as RITA). This system is a key part of
the IT required to deliver EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
3. As has been widely acknowledged by numerous
commentators and experts, significant IT enabled business change
programmes can be difficult to manage. There have been many examples
of problem projects in the public and private sectors in recent
years with difficulties attributed to poorly defined requirements,
changing business needs and lack of business preparedness that
can lead to delivery difficulties.
4. The challenges presented by this particular
change programme increased significantly as a result of the substantial
reform in June 2003 of CAP schemes, including the introduction
of the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) for 2005. It was expected that
the rules for the reformed payment scheme would be finalized before
the end of the calendar year 2003, but in fact this did not happen
until late 2004. To deliver the RITA system, development had to
continue in parallel with the finalization of these rules.
5. As a result, Accenture and the RPA agreed
to vary the original contractual deliverables. Accordingly, revised
releases of the RITA system required to meet the needs of the
Single Payment Scheme 2005 payments were agreed and have now all
been delivered. These deliveries took place as follows:
a) Release 1a - the Rural Land Register went
live in September 2004
b) Release 1b - the Customer Register went live
in February 2005
c) Release 3a0 - the High Volume Data Capture
functions went live in May 2005
d) Release 3a1 - the core online functions for
SPS went live in July 2005
e) Release 3a2 - the core batch functions required
to establish entitlements and make payments went live on 3 October
6. As stated, the dates of these deliveries were
not those originally envisaged for RITA at the time the contract
was signed, but were revised as the requirements of the Single
Payment Scheme evolved.
7. In dealing with payments for 2005, both the
RITA system and RPA business users have had to be flexible enough
to accommodate volumes of work that were higher than anticipated.
As a result, enhancement both of hardware and software has been
necessary in order to respond to changing business needs. For
example, in the area of IACS land forms, 10 times the expected
number of forms have been received.
8. The RITA system is now in operation and continues
to be stable. There is an Accenture team working with the RPA,
responsible for resolving service issues, correcting faults and
delivering changes on an on-going basis.
9. At present, RITA is being developed further
by Accenture, at the RPA's request, to meet the needs of the 2006
year and to provide further elements of the RPA change programme
such as an external e-Channel and enhanced support for inspectors.
10. There are other elements of IT required to
support payments under the Single Payments Scheme which are not
delivered by Accenture. These are not commented upon in this response.
11. Accenture remains committed to supporting
DEFRA and the RPA to help them to ensure that farmers are paid