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back to article CSA IT 'a turkey from day one'

The Child Support Agency computer system has cost millions and created chaos, but MPs remain sceptical about its replacement. A Parliamentary committee has concluded that reforms of the troubled Child Support Agency (CSA) have been "one of the greatest public administration disasters of recent times". Despite £539m of …

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Hmm....

And these are the same people who want to spend billions on a National ID databased...?!

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EDS Fail AGAIN!

It is a source of wonder how EDS manage to retain and win new contracts with the DWP given their almost total lack of success. It seems they take the old joke of "working, on time, on budget? Pick one." quite seriously.

It also comes as no surprise that:

"A key problem identified in the report is the agency's lack of in-house IT expertise, which left it unable to challenge EDS or remedy the numerous technical defects which emerged as the system was rolled out."

as the DWP outsourced all of their IT workers to private companies almost 10 years ago. I do think, however, that this is a smokescreen as any contract worth its salt would have a set of sign off criteria such as "less than 500 faults"...

Perhaps DWP and UK.gov will now take their competitive tendering process more seriously and not put all of their eggs in the EDS basket.

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Anonymous Coward

EDS and Crapita

If you read Private Eye on a regular basis, you'll notice that virtually every issue has details of a IT disaster costing the taxpayer millions which involves EDS or C(r)apita.

Time after time these two companies are hired by national and regional governments, it's as if there are no other IT providers in the country.

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Muppets

Yet again another outsourcing deal goes wrong.

When will the bean counters realise that outsourcing isn't all it's cracked up to be?

Employing staff and treating them should result in:-

1. Loyalty to company (perhaps bonus/share related?)

2. More interest (let the IT staff contribute to the business success)

While avoiding:

1. Annoyed staff transferred to the outsourcing company (no loyalty to either company)

2. Staff taken advantage of (the provider then has to provide enhanced service levels at lower costs....)

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Dan

RE: EDS and Crapita

This is because they undermine bids from everyone else. But as another commenter noted, outsourcing is never all it's cracked up to be - purely because the provider and the client have diametrically opposed interests. How can I benefit your business when my primary goal is to maximize MY profit with you as a customer?

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No surprise there

"MPs remain sceptical about its replacement" - no wonder, they know perfectly well that any replacement will just cost billions more and work no better.

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Anonymous Coward

But the reality is...

But the reality is... these systems are NOT that complicated and a team of no more than 10-15 people could plan, design and implement the system in at most two years.

The swathe of problems are underpinned by various "interested" parties, for example the telecoms supplier (BT), supplying a different project manager for every meeting (ensuring the waste of 99% of every meeting as the project needs to be explained time and time again), EDS having more project "managers" than staff who actually do anything even partly useful and the customer (DWP) in this case, trying to do everything by committee and producing a specification that's so vague and so contradictory in many places and enormously over-detailed in others that it's a wonder it's even possible to read it.

And yes, these are the jokes that want to spend more billions on a waste of time, will never do what it says on the tin, ID card scheme.

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Staffing

Never sell your nous. Otherwise you hit a situation where your consultant produces a report which no one in your organisation understands.

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Anonymous Coward

How do they get new business?

It amazes me how these companies get any more new business. There has been failure after failure of Government projects due to the crap performance of EDS and C(r)apita.

How does the tendering process go?

"So Mr EDS Salesman....can you give us an example of a successful project?"

"Sure...there was the CSA...no, wait....there was the Passport Service, oh no.....hang on.....um....CPS Libra......oh shit, thats wrong......."

"Excellent...heres £500million...."

Idiots, the lot of them.

Anthony

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stupid tender processes

Part of the problem is that at no point is the contractor allowed to put forward any suggestions. The entire consultation process is based on the civil service going "I want this, this this and this and I don't want it to do this". The contractor is not allowed to say "but that won't work, you'd be better off doing this". As a result the entire architecture and design is done by a bunch of idiots who haven't got a clue and then the contractor is left with the job of creating the impossible within constraints that have been put in place by people who do not understand the technology.

It's even worse when you start looking at systems that are to be used by local authorities. Ever wondered why the NHS project is so bad? Because every NHS trust has to hand in their own spec and the system then has to work according to all the specs given. In effect you get hundreds of little systems trying to run on one back end and then they wonder why it falls over...

Look at the rest of the world, why do their systems work? Because the contractor is allowed to tell the govt "no, that won't work"

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Anonymous Coward

Do NOT get me started on management consultancies like EDS and their ilk...

They are the biggest bunch of rip-off artists on the planet. Just ask David Craig. He knows. RPA knows. DEFRA knows. Passport Office knows. The story goes on!

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Anonymous Coward

First choose your scapegoat

All the major, and several minor, IT suppliers have had systems developed for Government go tits up, sometimes many times. The common factor is the customer. Doesn't this tell you something?

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not complicated at all...

Mothers who can't/wont name the father. Fathers who don't know/don't care who their children are. Fathers who could pay but won't because they know there is little chance of any sanctions being used against them, especially if they play the 'suicidal' card. Fathers who genuinely lack the means to pay but who are still bogged down in the process. Mothers who are determined to cause as much mischief as possible to 'get even'. People who lie. People with disfunctional lives. People who know how to play the system. Foreign residents. Immigrants legal and illegal. The bad, the mad and the feckless. Organised crime. Child trafficking. Fraud. Collusion. Ah yes, not complicated at all...

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Contracts

"This is because they undermine bids from everyone else."

Indeed, but you'd think HMG would be smart enough to hold them to the original quotation. It's the same in local government - the job invariably goes to the lowest bidder, who then somehow invokes a clause in the contract that allows him to hike the price later, or just waits until it's too late to cancel and stitches up the department concerned. Considering how many lawyers are on the public payroll (more than you think) surely contracts could be written more tightly? Or better, don't just give the job to the lowest bidder.

Or better still, restore child maintenance to the magistrates' courts, where each case is taken on its merits, by humans with local knowledge and powers to collect. Which is how it used to be done, of course, before politicians fell in love with computers...

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