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back to article Transport Dept. IT: 23 years late, £100m over-budget

The Liberal Democrats have got their calculator out again and added up all the cost over-runs and delays at the myriad IT projects at the Department for Transport. Taken together, all the DfT's various IT projects are 23 years late and more than £100m over budget. This sounds bad until you realise that one project, the Shared …

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Paris Hilton

To be fair...

...only being £100M over budget by government standards is quite good. You should wait and see how much the Olympics in 2012 is going to set us all * back.

* Of course when I say all I mean the council tax payers of London, because despite this being a HUGE benefit for the whole country (the politicians emphasis not mine) we are the only one's that get to pay for it! How lucky are we! Because its not like my wallet doesn't get raped enough by the state as it is. We'll be paying for this for the next 20+ years and for what, a overgrown sports day for 3 weeks.

PH Icon because even Paris knows, that blows.

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23 years "taken together" ?

That's an entirely meaningless number - 23 years taken together. If you had 600 projects and they were all 2 weeks late, its a rather different impact to having 1 project 23 years late.

The Lib Dems are attacking other parties more and more with the confidence of knowing they'll never be asked to deliver a government themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

Not only London

We here in Belfast have had budget cuts to make money available for the olympics.

Tha's not including the lottery funds which have been diverted also.

Oh yeah Belfast is really going to benefit from "The London Olympics" as it is billed (not the UK olympics).

It's sad to see that a greater 400% overspend on a project can be viewed as a not being too bad

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Olympics, Schmolympics!

Don't get me started on the Olympics.

Yet another big excuse for a bunch of slimey scumbags to line their own wallets by claiming millions/billions in fictitious expenses.

My Paris 2012 campaign in London didn't really get off the ground unfortunately.

Staging the Olympics is a big deal - a proving ground that your country is organised, efficient and good at marketing itself enough to host such a huge event. Like being allowed to ride a bike without stabilisers.

Red fire icon because 2012 will back-fire in everyone's faces!

Anyway, over budget and delayed government IT projects?

Of course!

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Olympics don't benefit the whole country

The Olympics will not benefit the whole country. The correct figures are that it will take around £200 million out of the rest of the country and move it into the London economy. That is why I was always against the Olympics. At a time when this country is already absurdly London-centric and access to underground stations will probably soon have to be rationed to stop overcrowding, having the Olympics just makes it even worse.

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@ irish AC

"Belfast is really going to benefit from "The London Olympics" as it is billed"

Of course it is billed London 2012, just like Beijing 2008, Athens 2004, Sydney 2000.. See a pattern?

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@Neal

"The correct figures are that it will take around £200 million out of the rest of the country and move it into the London economy. That is why I was always against the Olympics. At a time when this country is already absurdly London-centric and access..."

Actually Neal, it is London that pays for the rest of the country to sit in their council houses enjoying their dole money or working in their shops and using services subsidised by the City of London or do you see the country as somehow supported by the thriving mills of Yorkshire or wherever your ignorance hails from. This country is not London-centric enough, we have higher crime, more congestion, higher prices, longer hospital waiting lists, worse schools and less affordable housing than the rest of the country. London should be keeping a lot more of the money it makes.

That being said, the Olympics is a ridiculous waste of money, East London could have been regenerated without it and as a government project, it will be run by idiots that have no concern over how the tax I pay is wasted.

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Cause for Thought??

Has anybody stopped to consider "Government" programs that do get delivered on time.

Congestion charging :- Automated number plate recognition linking to a central database to see if you've paid or not, then cross-refencing to the DVLA database to find your address and send you a fine.

Vehicle taxing - instant wirless look up from police and DVLA/contractor vehicles to see if vehicles are taxed or insured.

HMRC online Self-assessment, one of the most complex forms you every have to fill in.

None of these projects are simple but they all got done on time, now note one thing that they have in common, these IT projects are design to make it more efficient for the government (or local government) to take money off us or to exact more money from us.

However IT projects that are meant to make government more efficient or to give a better service to the populace (e.g Passport issusing) are alway late, overbudget and usually unfit for purpose.

Am I just being cynical??

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@Neal

Neal I think £200M is going to turn out to be chicken feed compared to the overall budget once everything is added up (not that we'd ever get given a figure that was anywhere near correct in any case, I dare say you'll end up being screwed out of more than £200M when all said and done).

What makes me laugh is that people in the rest of the UK don't want it, no fucker in London I know wants it and yet we're all collectively going to end up picking up the tab. And don't get me started about tickets, no doubt they'll all be snaffled up by the corporates and the man in the street if he's lucky will get tickets to some obscure event that nobody has heard of! So we won't even be able to go and bloody see it!!

I live and work less than 10 minutes drive from the site and short of people in the building trade in the area its of no use whatsoever to the local workforce. We've had several clients who's premises were on the site who have had compulsory puchase orders issued against them and received a fraction of the lands true worth so as we see again from this government the man in the street is the first to be bent over.

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RE: Cause for Thought??

@RainForestGuppy

Heh, I was thinking exactly the same thing

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Coat

IOWA?????

You mean we are sending learner drivers to IOWA to take the theory part of the test????

Or has the DfT got a business model that says: 'send the details of theory test applicants to Iowa and throw it away there in the faint hope that noboby back home will notice'?

Inspired concept, but less than optimal implementation.

HMG should look at exporting all sensitive data to Kyrgyzstan where its subsequent loss would really really go unnoticed...

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Paris Hilton

get your shared services 'ere

Every department has its own shared services project (looks good as part of the "joined up government" spiel they all talk), unfortunately no other department is willing to touch anyone elses with a bargepole.

Paris, bargepole, I would.

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The Handy Guide to Government IT Projects

"This will be a Private-Public Inititative" - you will work with lots of people as we'll change the private partners (i.e., consultants) weekly, and the private partner will start dragging their good people off the minute they realise the whole project is going to be canned.

"We'd like to develop using the old system as much as possible" - this project will be harder to cancel, as they wouldn't be updating the old system unless it was chronically incapable of delivering what's needed and therefore they have to put something in place. You may work hard, but this should be a reasonably secure berth for a good few years.....

"This is a green field system" - translates to this will be canned right after it has cost your team approximately 500-manhours of unpaid overtime and at least 3 marriages. Projects without any previous iteration are much easier for mandarins to cancel or delay.

"We're not overbudget, we have merely expanded the project to include additional features" - scope creep! The project is a dead man walking and will never deliver what is wanted, especially after it has been hacked around a dozen times to meet the latest political fad, and will eventually be launched as a reduced service or pilot (pilots can easily be made to last forever before being quietly cancelled).

"We're taking advantage of new technologies to expand the number of options available to us" - we haven't a clue where we're going, we can't make it do what is needed, and we're desperately looking for a new project definition to at least make use of some of this cr*p!

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Why?

Why do we put up with this?

In the private sector, if you are given a project and run over budget, tough luck. You can't just get bailed out by the tax payer, and everyone involved knows it.

When the government do something, they put the contract out to tender and it seems everyone massively underbids then writes the contract in such a way that they can charge massive amounts on extras.

Why don't we simply contract the whole of the project out - give the whole thing to a private company and then say "Right, you said the Olympic Stadium would cost £x million, so that's all you're getting. If you've underbid, you make up the difference, not the tax-payer."

That way, we'd get much more accurate bids in the first place, and we'd know what we would end up paying, regardless of circumstances.

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@Jason Ellis

"Actually Neal, it is London that pays for the rest of the country to sit in their council houses enjoying their dole money or working in their shops and using services subsidised by the City of London or do you see the country as somehow supported by the thriving mills of Yorkshire or wherever your ignorance hails from."

What a brilliant sentence - displaying a wallet-full of crass ignorance and then accusing someone else of being ignorant.

Maybe you thought that, by writing a lengthy sentence without any commas, no-one would notice?

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@Jason

Sorry to disappoint you, but I actually live in London, not Yorkshire. That was why I made the point. Every day, I have to put up with cattle truck conditions on the underground and DLR. If living in this city is not to become impossible, we need to start moving things away from the city, not having more pointless and overblown events that are going to bring thousands more temporary workers and visitors to a city that can't cope with the numbers it has at the moment.

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Unhappy

RE: Matt Siddall

Actually, most Government projects go overbudget due to changes in strategy/direction/minister/minister's mistress/Government during the course of the project. I have an hilarious project diary somewhere that has no less than 27 project definitions (that's complete re-writes of the definition rather than additions or enhancements)!

My absolute fave was a mate's project that started as the fire control system for a weapon A made by Company B. It took the mandarins and incompetent ministers three years to finally agree that weapon A was actually what they wanted, and would need to integrate it with system C to do all the clever aiming stuff. Unfortunately, during this time Company B got rolled into Global Conglomerate D, rivals to the makers of system C, and who had a competing and fully-integrated solution E that said mandarins had already decided was too expensive. At this point, someone had the fine idea of creating a new FCS for weapon A. One year into the project, Global Conglomerate D announced they were canning weapon A in an attempt to push solution E. Another genius decided to continue the project as a development project, with the ludicrous base that the new FCS should be built around the now dead weapon A! Rumours were that the mandarins were convinced they could get weapon A back into being as weapon A+ if they could promise Global Conglomerate D a future sizeable order. At this point, we have a project team developing a complex FCS for a weapon which has not even been designed! Eventually, the prototype weapon A+ appeared and was completely incompatible with the FCS (big surprise), and Global Conglomerate D happily pocketed the cash for developing weapon A+ and went back to offering Solution E, now enhanced with a few bits of code my mate is convinced were lifted from his FCS program. The whole thing limped on for another four years before the mandarins handed the whole project (including all the code) over to Global Conglomerate D! Eighteen months later, under a new minister, the mandarins instead bought an off-the-shelf solution from another source, at twice the original price of Solution E (and only roughly comparable capability), and not including the cost of the project that had spiraled to ten times the original price of Solution E!!!

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@Chopper

Shame you weere offended, but in all your umbrage you failed completely to address the facts. London pays for the rest of the country. Hope the sentence wasn't too long for you this time.

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@Matt

"In the private sector, if you are given a project and run over budget, tough luck. You can't just get bailed out by the tax payer, and everyone involved knows it."

When I read the paper this morning it said that governments have already bailed out US non-government banks to the tune of US$90bn.

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Re: Why?

The Government have no problem with refusing to cut their losses and run. If you're a gambler and you're £100 in the hole, continuing may cause you to climb back and break even, or you may lose even more. So you have incentives both to quit and to continue. The Government, however, is not like a gambler because it's not their money they're playing with. They literally have nothing to lose from continuing, but if they quit, they'll suffer loss of face, at least in their eyes. So, inevitably, they continue. The Olympics is the best example - the Government would never say 'sorry, the Olympics is off, it'll cost too much'. (In reality, Britain would probably survive the loss, but all ministers can see is the headlines in The Sun the following morning.)

Oh, and if the Olympics is draining money from the rest of the country to London, too bad. The Scots will just have to put off gold-plating their 'parliament' building for another few years.

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@Jason Ellis

Perhaps, Jase, if the country were less London-centric you would not be forced to pay "for the rest of the country to sit in their council houses enjoying their dole money". If financial institutions were dotted around the country, people would work in them. However, unfortunately for your wonderfully colourful assertion, the region with the highest unemployment rate in the UK is, in fact, in London:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/nugget.asp?ID=1606&Pos=3&ColRank=1&Rank=176

And perhaps, with less overcrowding, you wouldn't have to endure "higher crime, more congestion, higher prices, longer hospital waiting lists, worse schools and less affordable housing than the rest of the country".

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@Jason Ellis

London pays for the rest of the UK does it ? How's that then ?

According to the ONS, the UK population in 2007 was 60,587,000, while the population of London was 7,172,091. That's just under 12%.

Given that, it would seem that in order to support your hypothesis, every citizen in London would have to be paying squillions of quid each in tax*. I have the misfortune to have to visit London often, and given that it seems to have an above average stock of scruffy, ill educated layabouts, I find this fairly hard to credit.

Perhaps if your population were actually up to the task of getting their cheeky cokerney arses out of bed in the mornings, earning a few quid, and actually paying some taxes, your city wouldn't be such a filthy, piss stinking, congested scum hole.

Probably still be full of twats though.

PPOSTFU

*Can't find a figure for UK GDP just at the moment, my google-fu is weak today.

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@The other Steve

Well I'm living in London, and yes it is an overpriced, overvalued, piss stinking filthy congested dark (piss stinking filthy badly maintained buildings block out the sunlight) hole.

Not sure about the scruffy layabouts bit though.

Much of London's population (Zones 1 to 3 anyway, which covers most of London) is full of a vast variety of people from lots of different countries.

Mainly though, it seems to be full of retail and offices, and the associated folk. These people are all largely hard working, and badly treated folk.

Badly treated by their employers and poorly paid in relation to the massive amounts of rent they have to pay - and none of them except the old school bankers apprentices could realistically afford to save up for a £15,000 deposit for their minging, tiny little flat with the (mostly always) crap landlord or even crapper estate agents.

Give them more money and the rest of the country complains they are getting paid too much, whilst the local councils bump up the council tax another 10% to take care of kids forming gangs and having fantasies about being proper gangs and get knives and guns and have fantasy wars which actually go to far and get people killed on occasion.

Give them more money and the house prices soar even further. The average price of a house here? No, a flat then? £250,000 for a poxy shoebox.

I hate living in London for that reason, the air of desperation is a stinky as the piss in the streets.

London has been poorly treated and badly neglected for a hell of a long time.

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Anonymous Coward

North - South divide

LOL .....

London is a poo hole - but the North can offer Hull, Scunthorpe, Bradford.

My personal favourite (albeit in the Midlands) is Birmingham - it's bloody dire.

Let's all pi** off somewhere nice eh ?

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