By Tony Collins
The Observer reported yesterday that some CSC investors are suing the company, saying it was giving assurances about the “Lorenzo” software when it had been warned that the software project was on a “death march”.
According to the class action complaint, which was brought on behalf of a number of investors led by a major Canadian fund, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, CSC knew in May 2008, through reports and testing, that Lorenzo was “dysfunctional and undeliverable”.
The complaint cites one member of an internal CSC “delivery assurance review team” which visited the UK and India, where Lorenzo was developed, in early 2008.
He said the team were consistent in the message that CSC could not meet its deadline. “We could not deliver the solution set that we had contracted with the NHS.”
The review team member added that, at the time, “costs were building up on the balance sheet and the project was behind schedule”. The review team knew that the contract was a loser and CSC should have recognised a loss in 2008, according to The Observer, quoting the team member.
Lorenzo’s deputy head of testing told a second delivery review team that test results were “abysmal”. According to court filings, the test official was later told by his boss to “shut up”, which he took to mean he should no longer criticise testing.
Shortly before retiring in April this year, the deputy head of testing emailed CSC chief executive Michael Laphen saying: “The project is on a death march where almost as many defects are being introduced as are being fixed. Look at the defects reports.” Despite these internal concerns, CSC told investors that Lorenzo and CSC’s work for the NHS was on track.
Investors said they dismissed negative media reports on the basis of reassurances from CSC that the NHS work was on track, making significant progres in testing, and receiving positive feedback from the NHS. In response to press coverage, CSC is said to have told investors: “The press speculated wildly and inaccurately on the status of the NHS programme.”
CSC has made no statement.
Lorenzo is the main NPfIT product to be delivered and deployed to NHS trusts by CSC under contracts worth about £3bn. The Cabinet Office and the Department of Health are negotiating with CSC to continue or drop Whitehall’s commitments to CSC Lorenzo deployments.
CSC’s share price today stood at $26.85, close to a five-year low.