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back to article UK child database is 'not fit for purpose'

The government is pressing ahead with its "Integrated Children's System" despite a review of four pilot projects which call into doubt the database's design and its benefits - if any - for care workers. The ICS review was carried out by two academics from the University of York and nine researchers. They examined progress in …

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Alert

Why...

Should this database be any different (better) than any other .gov.uk spawned/sponsored P.O.S.

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typical

it's the typical 'we're so detached from reality we know what's right for everyone' that's come to be expected from the current govt. kinda like the scrapping of the 10p limit and the 'we're all set to miss the global credit crunch' . living in cuckoo land, that's where labour are. they want more money and more spin, they'll destroy the country getting it.

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IT Angle

Centralized micromanagement

I am sure a lot of us have come across these sorts of database applications. Maybe even had to work on them. The specification is thick and comprehensive and completely out of touch with the users and probably does not even folow management policy. The fact it makes staff using the system work harder is of no concern to management as long as they gain more control.

Staff will find ways of skipping through the screens faster. They will most probably create their own paper forms and employ data entry personel to enter these into the system If they get really smart they may write their own application in MS Access and have this feed the governments forms or backend database.

Anything done purely top down will look clean but function badly since it will not take account of the day to day realities of life. It's quite common for the bosses to dictate one thing whilst the staff get on and do it in a way that works. If it's a success then the boss thinks his system is working. I have discovered this sort of thing when gathering information for a specification. I struck a deal with the staff that I would do the system they wanted as long as they told the boss it was working well and would come to me with any problems. The boss was very pleased because it gave the outcome he wanted.

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Stop

Build up momentum and press on 'til the bitter end

I watched 'The Apprentice: 10 Worst Decisions' on catch-up TV last night. One of those featured was that by a project manager charged with the task of designing a new children's toy. They had two contenders: A robot wars-style robot and a pack of cards called 'Secret Signals' which kids could use to send 'secret signals' to one another across the playground (SMS anyone?).

The team's response was immediate: Go with the robot. The focus group's response (in this case some young children) was immediate: We like the robot. There was some kind of marketing vote on it: 360-240 in favour of selling the robot. What did the project manager choose? The secret signals card game.

The relationship to this child database article? Why on Earth, after valuable review time and valuable research do people insist on pressing ahead with a bad idea? Maybe I'm expressing some wide-eyed innocence, but in a similiar fashion with ID cards, numerous groups have repeatedly said: it'll cost too much / the public don't want it / what will it achieve? / what are the technical issues? / the system has unresolved flaws. And yet the government continue on slow almost shambling plodding steps forward. With a final apathy-laden breath I ask: Why?

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IT Angle

Highly Disturbing

As the proud dad of a 5 year old this 1984 / King Herod database really does send a chill down my spine. What next Mr Brown (nose) are you going to tattoo a number on my kids arm or put an RFID in their head ? One word - GIGO !

Why IT?

(SH) IT !

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Anonymous Coward

Why?

Why do the Government continue to ignore the advice of people who objectively know better than them? Because the highest virtue they can conceive of is "having the courage of your convictions". They don't value rational debate because they know that the Sheeple can be swayed by appeals to non-rational faculties (it's how they got into power) and so assume that *non-rational* decisions are the correct one. While there's a difference between non-rational and *irrational*, it's a low dividing wall, more a raised brick in the pavement and easy to miss as you shamble.

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why bother

If they're just going to ignore objective advise, why bother commissioning it in the first place? Just save the time and money, make the system off the bat, bollocks it up, then scrap it - cut out the middle man.

Putting aside the fact the research says the current implementation is flawed - can't think of one government IT project that can by any sane person be called a secuess - overrun, over budget, and unfit for purpose.

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dangerous game

Continuing to ignore the electorate, bulldoze heretics and stamp on decent. 5 years ago we would not use language from scary books to describe our lack of democracy.

You stop listening to us mr brown, how do you think we will continue to listen to you?

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dangerous game

Continuing to ignore the electorate, bulldoze heretics and stamp on decent. 5 years ago we would not use language from scary books to describe our lack of democracy.

You stop listening to us mr brown, how long do you think we will continue to listen to you?

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General Election soon (but not soon enough)

And everybody in the country will have their chance to declare this government as 'not fit for purpose' so make sure you vote.

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Black Helicopters

Re: General Election soon

Please vote for who you want rather than who you think has a chance. As with the Internet, if you can't find the web site you want then perhaps there is not one and you should start one. So if the candidate you want is not running then perhaps you should stand.

This government may look incompetant but that might mean you underestime them. Perhaps the bigger adgenda is not whether this database helps children rather does it gather more data on people which can be used to control them?

It is a database afterall, it contains some interesting people. People who's children are disabled are often very strong activists. They have had to fight burocrasy all the way for the drugs and treatments and support their children need. They know how the system works and how to game the system to get what they desparately need. They form groups and organisations and are quite determined and powerful.

Damn right the government wants to have something on them. Even if the software is clunky and ineffective for it's stated purpose.

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Obviously you're going to come to that conclusion if you don't understand what the purpose is

The purpose of this database is to whack money extorted from the taxpayer back into the economy in a way that expands government power and patronage. Same as all government spending. It's perfectly fit for purpose, it's just that the purpose isn't what they're telling us it is.

@Danny: No we won't. We will have our chance to rotate a few hundred windbags around who have peripheral influence over the actual government, and even that choice is limited. None of the major three parties explicitly sets out, say, what percentage of GDP they plan to set the tax burden at, but I guarantee you there wouldn't be more than 10 percentage points between them, and less than 5 in the case of the big two. On all the really important issues - the proliferation of laws, Prohibition, the ridiculous tax burden - the parties are essentially united. Not because they're too intellectually cowardly to be different, or because that's what the majority of people want or need, but because all political parties are entirely composed of career politicians, and for a career politician to argue for less tax and more freedom to any meaningful extent would be like an entrepreneur arguing his business needs less revenue.

Democracy would only be a genuine choice if it had a 'none of the above' option.

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Gates Halo

You're all a bunch of luddites

I don't know how you can all possibly fail to see that the answer to all the governments empowerment paradigms are more and more optimized IT projects. In the 21st Century we shall see a ramp up of IT Plans that shall deliver all our brothers and sisters to an empowered brave new world through the granular empowerment of end users. Mr Brown shall provide us all with the greater clarity of thinking necessary to synergize our IT expenditure through the greater use of enhanced consultants in a scalable environment providing a value-added approach for a globalized ecosystem. Enhanced Consultants have the necessary visual overview and thoughtware to provide a holistic insight that we allow us to re-engineer in a bleeding-edge way all the aforementioned paradigms for more leveraged cross-platform solutions.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

@spleen

"The purpose of this database is to whack money extorted from the taxpayer back into the economy in a way that expands government power and patronage. Same as all government spending. It's perfectly fit for purpose, it's just that the purpose isn't what they're telling us it is."

In that case you might be interested in my modest proposal: http://copsewood.net/writings/kaytax.html . This thin end of a long wedge doesn't deny funding to hospitals and schools, just progressively changes who directs the way taxes are spent from mainly by "them" to mainly by taxpayers.

"all political parties are entirely composed of career politicians, and for a career politician to argue for less tax and more freedom to any meaningful extent would be like an entrepreneur arguing his business needs less revenue."

If this were entirely rather than mainly true ( s/all/most/ ; s/entirely/mainly/ ), my proposal would have zero chance of getting through. Actually it could be got through by a few MPs from a minority party with the balance of power in exchange for giving one of the other parties a lot of what they wanted, as it doesn't immediately impinge on the interests of most of the career politicians out there who tend to become as you claim they all are, and because of this tend to take a pretty short-term view. This weakness could well turn out to be their undoing.

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It's springtime, and a young martian's fancy

turns to breeding. I think amanfromMars has/have started spawning, forking, or whatever it is they do, judging by pAnoNymous' contri.

You can always tell the young of the species by its innate spelling ability and its unselfconscious attitude to self-expression. Only later is this charming naiivity replaced by the knowledge that once transmitted, a broadcast exists for all time, rippling out into the furthest reaches of the universe, and the realisation that there is a need to obfuscate into the face of evil but stupid and racist empires and their lackeys intent on database building.

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Silver badge

The reason they press on despite the evidence

It's a trend which really began under the crumbling Major administration, but which was turned into an artform under Blair. If a minister can show they stood up to a select committee / pressure group / Today programme it gives them serious kudos with the sheep on the backbenches. If they can do it by snarling and bullying all the better, it shows a vigorous government in action.

A minister who's seen to bend to any external interest is clearly not strong enough for the job and needs to be replaced by a more loyal member of the Politburo.

And if their policy turns out to be screaming disaster, it doesn't matter, a successful minister will have been promoted out of that portfolio and will be busy screwing up something else entirely. There's no better example than John Reid who was woeful in every job he did, pissed off everyone he ever met and left a trail of wreckage behind him - but didn't stop him being considered as PM material.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mike Richards

> There's no better example than John Reid

A very fine example, but excelled methinks by one humble Hoon - who we observe is still there, unlike the bruiser Reid (what goes around, comes around), and whipping the back-bench sheep. The classic and unforgettable Hoon move was in the Inquiry over the death of Dr David Kelly, where the Hoon shrugged off any responsibility by asserting he delegated his duty of care. Emblematic of leadership, wot not? Perhaps Hoon is equally capable also of delegating his salary, but as yet we do not know.

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Pirate

follow the money?

Here in 'Murka, many projects materialize on the basis of whose pockets get lined (I cite Halliburton, KBR, and other well- connected gubmint contractors who got "cost plus" work in the current Iraq debacle as Exhibit A) or whose gubmint department can raise the scariest spectre of Impending Doom (I cite the Pentagram as Exhibit B), not whether the folks lined up to do the work are actually as good as they say they are, whether the work actually needs to be done, whether there are other/ better/ more cost- efficient options, and so on. Perhaps similar is going on here? Leave us not forget that a well- constructed fiasco means continued revenue for the "consultants" hired to sort out the mess (or at least get it limping along well enough to justify the fees and a "maintenance plan"), as any BOFH worth her/his salt should know.

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re: Hoon

Didn't he also say something along the lines of "what are you asking me for, I'm only the Defences Secretary."?

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