Feeds

back to article UK gov skills shortage jeopardising IT projects

MPs have said poor skills at senior level are jeopardising ICT projects. Senior civil servants with poor experience and little time are threatening the success of critical technology enabled programmes. Key government ICT programmes are being put at risk because senior civil servants lack the experience to run them and often …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Anonymous Coward

Appointment process

Perhaps if fewer total nuggets were appointed and easily promoted due their toadying and bootlicking fewer of these disasters would occur in the first place.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

And in other news, bears shown to use woods as a toilet and Pope suspected of Catholic tendencies...

I can speak from experience here. I work in Govt IT all the time.

My day to day experience is that the SRO normally never turns up, has no idea what is going on, and is doing all they can to ensure that they take no blame for anything at all. They have virtually no IT skills, they love having 3rd party contractors or outsourcers in as they can blame them if and when things go wrong.

If they are forced kicking and screaming to a meeting then they ensure that it's well packed so that if a decision is made (faint chance I know), everybody shares the blame if it goes wrong. 20 people in the room means only 5% blame each.

If they weren't there, then it was somebody elses fault.

Not sure how much research went into this work, but simply asking two or three people on the ground would have got the same results much quicker.

0
0

Re: ...bears shown to use woods as a toilet and Pope suspected of Catholic tendencies...

This begs the questions ( well, it does in my mind at it's least) : Does a bear Pope in the woods and does the Pope bare in the woods?

0
0

Congratulations

The UK has joined the rest of the world, where the incompetent become the managers and the grunts get the work done. And the manager, not knowing WTF is actually happening, avoids reporting up the chain for fear of actually having to explain what's going on.

Of course, the politicians are quite good at ducking responsibilities themselves.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Kinda what we all thought....

Having been, in the past, involved in both private and government dept IT projects as a senior tech i can, with my hand on heart, say that i never expect ANY govt project to be completed on time, on budget or work the way it was originally intended. (As for private companies, i'd say about 70% achieve, give or take a little, the goals set).

In my experience, the reasons are simply, and as has been said above, that totally unsuitable people are hired or placed at the helm of these projects and there is insufficient understanding of the complexity of issues leading to major changes to the project goals when the project is already underway - most often making the work already done worthless.

I am not totally against non IT people being Project Managers, as i know some who aren't IT folks and are very good PMs, but they do know their technical limitations and do not become 'yes' men or women without getting a solid enough understanding of whether something can actually be done or not. Unfortunately, the mindset within govt that i have seen relies on the shared blame culture and the underlying concept that if more money is needed then the govt will simply give more.

And as for the headline, as we have all heard before about a 'Skills Shortage'...well, that is absolute rubbish. There are plenty of adequately skilled and motivated people who could do the job to a very good standard. However, they don't get a look in because of the closed shop mentality of govt giving jobs to existing staff or their friends/family regardless of experience, the pay is not as good (although the benefits of not being sacked for being useless and a final salary pension scheme are attractive) and finally, a lot of good people are leaving...or have already done so.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Kinda what we all thought....

From my experience as an engineer on local govt IT projects, the above is pretty much what I expected of full Govt IT work. There are some good people in there, just not enough and from what I know, they don't get enough control/influence over the work itself, because they don't have Prince2 qualifications of whatever it is that Project Managers claim gives them the ability to completely override calid, lucid technical arguments.

Example : Two rooms in a building, one wifi, one wired, order some machines PCs, half of the allocation of machines per room, but don't order any wifi cards as the project manager expected them to be installed on the computers out of the box...

Who got the blame on the site? Me. Who sourced, tested and bought the wifi cards and saved a large amount of face with the clients? Me. Who got the praise? Project Manager.

One of many interesting jobs I've been mixed up in. Which is why I'm getting the hell out of there instead of wasting my time and effort cleaning up other peoples messes.

The easiest way of putting it is that if people like this had to work in a real company, they'd be out the door before they could arrange their desks.

Shame I might have to wear a suit to work, turn up before 9am, and actually work for a living now, eh?

Yours,

One Anon happy to be out and still looking for that elusive first 'real ' job.

0
0

Its the womens fault you know...

The only difference between private industry (70% success rate, as quoted above) and government (maybe 10% success rate - my, somewhat optimistic, guess) is that the government, with an eye to equal opportunity - and the fact there are more girl (voters) than boys - appoint far too many just plain untalented women to IT management and technical management roles.

0
0
Bronze badge

Pay peanuts, get monkeys

As public sector IT (in the UK) pays so little, the significant advantage seems to be how difficult it is to get fired - even if utterly incompetent. What sort of people are they likely to attract (and keep)?

0
0

Re: Its the womens fault you know...

That's strange. In my 20 years of experience I have found women project managers *tend* to be more professional and successful than their male counterparts. And seem to be less obsessed with "equal opportunity" and "girl vs boy" issues than Brett appears to be.

0
0
Ian

I've seen it first hand...

The problem isn't so much just that senior managers are incompetent, but that the people higher again that appoint these senior managers are incompetent. The sad truth is that incompetence breeds incompetence.

The people at the top tend to be the wasters who have spent their life in these jobs and inherited them not through skill or ability but over time, of course however as they employ people equally incompetent even after they fade away their successor share the same incompetence gene.

Essentially therefore the problem isn't so much about IT, but senior management in government departments in general, it's not like business where a bad CEO/Manager would kill the business off, government departments are nigh on unkillable, there's just no accountability so the problem persists and continues.

The only way we're going to resolve this problem is start from the top, rebuild the management structures from the highest level possible, employing people, not because candidate X is 50+ and has 40 yrs experience working for some council or whatever but replacing them with people who are dynamic, if someone's been in roughly the same job or at least at the same place for 40 years they have no more than about 3 yrs experience IMO because they learn about their work enviroment in those first 3 yrs and their knowledge remains static from there on. We need people who have jumped between various businesses, or even god-forbid, someone young and dynamic with an up to date point of view, not someone who's knowledge has been left to stagnate working for the local council or whatever for 40yrs and hence gets given the job as a reward for his "loyal" (lazy) service.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.