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back to article Call for heads to roll over failed spook IT system

Jacqui Smith has been urged to sack intelligence officials responsible for the failure of a secret major IT project after tens of millions of pounds had already been spent. The call for heads to roll over the scrapping of SCOPE Phase II came yesterday from Labour backbencher Andrew MacKinlay. SCOPE Phase II was the second stage …

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Ash
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Forget the officials

Sack Jacqui Smith.

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Stop

Nothing will change

They don't want to learn : viz

1) All contractors must have "Government experience" - i.e. no outside thinking

2) All contractors must be security cleared already. It costs too much / takes too long to clear new candidates. Hence, no outside thinking

I'd love to work at Vauxhall Cross on a large project, but can't because of the self-imposed rules. Perhaps it would be too embarrassing for someone "external" to point out how projects could be run better...

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lessons learned

... i hate this phrase as lessons are Never learned by this lot since people are rewarded for failure.

Sack Jaqui, then the rest of them

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder....

On election night, will all the self righteous people that danced about when Portillo 'got the shove' for being "too damn right wing and a 'facist" be dancing when Jacqui gets the can too?

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Anonymous Coward

Just as with the bankers,

It seems senior civil servants, and MPs are rewarded for taking risks without having to take responsibility for the failures. Since it is our tax money that is going to fund them (just like the bankers), at what point do we say 'enough is enough' and tear down the whole house of cards?

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Alert

Yes Minister

It's interesting to note that it is as true today as it was then...

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Unhappy

odd isn't it...

when a project that could make them look a bunch of prats to foreign intelligence agencies goes tits up it gets canned sharpish, but when a project that is a damned near certainty to scatter Joe Public's personal data to the four winds gets slatted they can't possible consider scraping it.

What's really worrying me now is the thought of how much more damage these pillocks could do before they're inevitable GE defeat.

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What?

A Government project pissed a shitload of cash up the wall and then went titsup?

I'm amazed.

Well, bugger me. The sun came up today too. A bit of a red-letter day all round.

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Rob
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Helping hand

How much will it cost the general public to pay our own secret servcies to bump that crazy loon Jacki off.

Just name your price, I'll start the whip round and soon as you give me a figure.

(Seen too many pics of the woman now and I don't blame her husband for beating off to a bit of telly fluff, I posted a tenner to him out of sympathy)

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Anonymous Coward

Well

I present "The Life Cycle of a government IT Project"

1) Hire Lowest Bidder

2) Let them do whatever they like without oversight

3) Project delivered semi-functional and X>2 years late

4) Throw money at project to make it work.

5) Scrap project

6) Hold an enquiry

7) Blame nobody

8) Goto 1)

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Black Helicopters

Sounds like...

a cunning way to pipe off money into super secret projects without having to deliver anything obvious at the end of the project.

Is there anything to show for these tens of millions?

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N
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Its long overdue...

sack Jaqui Smith

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Anonymous Coward

Sack 'em before investigating...?

Way to go... let's sack those involved before investigating the cause of the failure? Gawd I hate politicians.

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Only tens of millions?

and how many heads have rolled for the numerous other government IT projects (Libra for example?) that ran hundreds of millions of pounds over budget?

Start at the top of the list and work down...

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And these are the same people

And these are the same people who want to run the largest database on earth (for ID cards and/or everyones internet traffic) ? Geez...

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Paris Hilton

well....

This will be forgotten next week, when the next big cock-up happens

Paris cos she never forgets a cock-up...

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Happy

Don't tell me.

When they tried to encrypt 2.5 million child benefit data records, they found on a cd, Excel went tits up and then Vista refused to validate.

No one at PC world can fix it

so project abandoned.

What we need is a good set of stock out side westminster

at least that way we could use all those 2 for 1 offers

on ripe tomatoes.

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Anonymous Coward

Quantum of expenditure

It's probably been spent on all those surface computing systems and liquid crystal office walls.

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Anonymous Coward

Nice precedent

Then she can sack herself over the multiple failures of her ID database.

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Black Helicopters

An alternative...

What they need is an Intersect like on the top TV show 'Chuck'.

For those of you who haven't seen Chuck, check out the promo video on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV5_HGgy388

I tell you what, if they want a gunea pig for something like this and they would send along an agent like Sarah then sign me up straight away.

Oh, the future of Chuck is like this government IT system, it's in jepoardy so if you're so inclinded check out http://nbcsavechuck.com and help SAVE CHUCK!

Rob

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RW
Coat

Politicization of the civil service

That's the root of most of this nonsense. By applying political litmus tests to candidates for high positions in the civil service (do you, or do you not, have a personal loyalty to Tony B. Liar?), those critical positions have gradually filled up with political ass-kissers and incompetents. (Not that those categories are in any way mutually exclusive.)

This practice was aggravated by Labour's certainty that a proper education was somehow elitist and contrary to good proletarian ideals.

From the top, the rot has slowly percolated downwards until the entire service is staffed with nincompoops, idiots, retards, time-servers, silly women, uneducated fools, self-important assholes, and similar.

Britain used to have a public service that was the envy of the world. No, it wasn't perfect, far from it, but like the little girl, when it was good it was very, very good. No more, alas! Now it's total incompetence day in, day out, in all regards.

Sadly, there is no way to reverse this damage.

From a historical perspective, things are back to where they were right after the Restoration in 1660 and it will take another Samuel Pepys with balls of brass to begin the process of restoring standards.

How sad.

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and when you're finished...

... move on to the NHS National Program for IT and sack the lot of them too...

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Black Helicopters

Heads should not roll...

...they should be knocked together. The heads of the spooks, I mean.

Technical problems there may have been, but I'd guess that the real problems were getting the various intelligence agencies to work together. To trust each other. To co-operate.

I'd also be the last person to defend Wacky Jacqui, but I'd say she's largely blameless - all this happened under her predecessors.

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"The Life Cycle of a government IT Project" Updated

Between Step 1) and Step 2) there should be the step which is named

"Buy all the kit for a multi-year IT project in the first three months of the project"

Between Step 6) and Step 7) there should be the step which is named

"Sell all the kit that was bought for a multi-year IT project in the first three months of the project"

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Boffin

scrapped last year for undisclosed reasons"

"SCOPE .. was scrapped last year for undisclosed reasons"

Conflicker Worm Invades Hospital Instruments

http://crackerboy.us/2009/04/30/conflicker-worm-invades-hospital-instruments/

"Various Royal Navy warships and Royal Navy submarines, and hospitals across the city of Sheffield turned to be down under Conflicker’s attack"

http://downadups.wordpress.com/

"ATM virus that steals money from banks"

http://www.zeenews.com/news518262.html

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Pirate

Re: I wonder...

I would guess the answer is yes - and for the same reason.

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Paris Hilton

No party fit to govern...

Unfortunately, it won't make any difference who gets to "run" the country. I reckon a benevolent dictatorship is one option.

Another alternative is to appoint MPs jury style, picked out of the general population and limited to serve a maximum of two years. Some basic criteria would need to be met, of course, but it would wipe out career politicians at a stroke. Your neighbours would be your constituents and would judge you on your performance. Your employer would be compensated for your absence and you would return to society a more rounded and enlightened person.

I'm sure my argument is riddled with holes but doesn't it sound a great idea?

Paris because any money spent on her would be wasted too.

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Unnamed Supplier

"The Cabinet Office is now negotiating its way out of a huge contract with an unnamed private sector IT supplier."

I wonder if this is EDS again...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/11/08/government_cocks_up_another_computer/

That time is was a £300m cock up. And that was in the days when £300 million was considered to be a lot of money!

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Wacky Jacqui said...

"The decision to terminate the contract was not taken lightly - it was taken after detailed consideration and legal and technical advice."

Yet despite a lot of legal and technical advice, she still ploughs ahead with the DNA database and ID Cards and the National Identity Register etc...

And, of course, because it's a "National Security Issue" we're never going to *see* the "advice" they were given, but it must have been pretty spectacular to make them can the project.

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Anonymous Coward

Time to..

Sack Jackboots Smith...

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Will they never learn?

Come on guys, it's not like these databases are rocket science. Most of us could do it properly in our sleep. But then, our jobs depend on doing it properly.

How about some responsibility to go with that authority?

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Anonymous Coward

The Life Cycle of a government IT Project V2.0

1) Get in a consultant

2) Get consultant to write spec, but don't let consultant speak to people on the front line. Instead, only let the consultant speak to "senior managers"

3) Go out to tender. "Negotiate" with suppliers for impossibly low price and short timescales. (Act surprised when consultant has links to winning supplier)

4) Start changing spec. This is a continuous process throughout the life cycle of the project.

5) Supplier starts work.

6) Act surprised when supplier can't supply anything to the desired timetable. Pay them more money

7) Start rolling out (something) NB - no testing phase - it's been scraped to save time & money.

8) Discover that it doesn't work and doesn't actually do what the people on the front line actually need it to do.

9) Start getting shafted by supplier for huge change control costs.

10) "success" is when someone actually uses the system, even if it's for the most menial task that could be done better the old way.

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Why only sack them?

The way I see it at least someone has been negligent, resulting in the public purse being defrauded of a large sum of money (large to me).

Sacking them isn't enough; they 'll just go on and do the same again. Hold them to account. Take all their assets and sell them to recover the money, then lock them up.

If they don't tell you where all the money is, wire up their genitals to the mains until they do. (I think that's how it's done these days?)

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Dead Vulture

WoooooooOOOooo

WoooOOOOooo Its haunted WoooooOOOoooo

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Coat

Is this payback time?

After the recent claims, apparently from GHCQ, that denied they were going to spy on all webdata, I wondered it this is Jacqui paying someone back for the embarrassment that it probably caused.

As they say 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.'

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Bad message?

So, sacking secret people for scraping secret projetcts for secret reason? Isn't that sending the message that NO FAILED PROJECT SHOULD BE SCRAPED, EVER?

Shurely scraping it was a better idea than secretly letting it go through an other couple tens billion pounds, no? The people responsible should not be praised for the failure, but they should not be blamed for the scraping either.

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Anonymous Coward

Let Wackey Crackey Jacqui write the code

the ever consummate pro she is she have it all wrapped up lickety split before the new week.

I hear she maybe looking for a new job, could be up her alley.

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Unhappy

The Life Cycle of a government IT Project V0.5 Beta (Pilot / Procurement)

1] Pilot some of the new technology using company (A).

2] Have the pilot evaluated by a 3rd party "independent" body (B) with no prior experience in this field, preferably before the pilot work is fully completed.

3] Don't bother communicating with company (A) to get any learning points.

4] Ensure the pilot review contains enough spin to justify the project going ahead.

5] Tender the work to companies (C), (D) and (E). (The usual suspects). Ensure that any incumbent companies with specific subject matter and technical expertise are excluded from the tendering process (usually for reasons of size)

6] Don't bother doing a proper risk assessment. Or if one is done and the project is inevitably demonstrated as being extremely high risk (for reasons of complexity, innovation, team experience, project size, etc, etc...) gloss over the results and don't present these realistically to decision makers. Wait until it is too far down the line to back out before acknowledging the risks.

7] Employ armies of contractors and consultants to produce reams and reams of business case and other supporting documents, which would take months to read and contain implausible and unquantifiable benefits. Choose a different technology platform to the one that was proven in the pilot stage. Ignore previous Govt IT project experience in costings.

8] Ensure that "consulted users" comprises a very small band of carefully selected "on message" focus groups, rather than a representative cross section of actual end users who could point out obvious deficiencies. In this way it can be spun later on that users were consulted.

9] Present to Government ministers for approval, none of which have any experience in IT and are thus not able to question any of the findings or assumptions.

10] Project starts and announcement is made after a few months that the budget has massively increased.

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Anonymous Coward

Name me one successful UK Gov IT project in the last 5 years

Come on. Shouldn't be too difficult, should it?

Just one.

One single project.

Or at the very least, one single minor project...

Hello, anybody home...?

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Joke

Any one remember "Top Cat?"

Because no one messes with big Gus.

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Go

Contrast this ...

... with public accountability expressed by our cousins across the pond.

There is no way that governmental organisations in the UK will ever seek to be publicly accountable.

'nuff said?

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Happy

@James Boag

Please do *NOT* waste good food !! Tomatoes can still be eaten !! Horse manure, on the other hand,........

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@BristolBachelor

"If they don't tell you where all the money is, wire up their genitals to the mains until they do. (I think that's how it's done these days?)"

Actually, it's not !! Apparently, the latest fashion is to bind their hands behind them, stick their heads in a porous hood, lie them down under a steady and controllable source of water (a tap ??) and run water onto their faces until they feel as though they are drowning but not actually so.

I believe it's called "water-boarding" !! Ingenious, these Americans !! And they *never* ever use torture; or so they said !!

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RE: The Life Cycle of a government IT Project V0.5 Beta (Pilot / Procurement)

"1] Pilot some of the new technology using company (A)." ..... By MarkT Posted Saturday 9th May 2009 00:55 GMT

MarkT,

Whenever 1] is Pilot some new technology, pilfered and plagiarised from company (Z), using company (A) is the foundation, you wouldn't believe the catastrophic damage that company (Z) can write/wrought and be fully justified in doing so with complete immunity. Invariably though, Common Sense prevails and a Huge Sum of Compensation to the First Party and Secret Compact with Open Ended Contract with the Dodgy Third Party, is Phormed and Thrives QuITe Spectacularly ........ and ends up in the Movies as if Something ESPecially Made for the Movies. :-)

Failing that, IT all goes to a Competitor and/or Sworn Enemy and they Reap All the Benefits and the Glory with no Heartache or Pain.

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This is not surprising

It's just another IT project that went out of scope!

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Name me one ...

"Name me one successful UK Gov IT project in the last 5 years"

Try 'Glow'!

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Joke

Name me one successful UK Gov IT project in the last 5 years

I believe that some chap in Exeter successfully managed to install XP and get it activated once.

2006 it was, I think

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Anonymous Coward

@Ishkandar

"...run water onto their faces until they feel as though they are drowning but not actually so."

Not quite. It's actually get water in their lungs so they are in agonising pain, and then revive them before they drown completely.

I would pay good money to watch it being done to Bush and Cheney.

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Flame

Jaqui's quote!

Smith said: "The Government take this issue extremely seriously. We are very aware of the loss of any public funds, and especially at the current time"

Does that mean she's going to stop allowing her hubby to bill his smut to the taxpayer?

...or...

Does it mean that she's going to stop all this "2nd home" and "staying with sister" nonsense?

...or...

Does it perhaps mean that she's going to can the ID cards scheme before it becomes even more of a national disgrace?

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Anonymous Coward

@ anonymous

Smith said: "The Government take this issue extremely seriously. We are very aware of the loss of any public funds, and especially at the current time"

Does that mean she's going to stop allowing her hubby to bill his smut to the taxpayer?

...or...

Does it mean that she's going to stop all this "2nd home" and "staying with sister" nonsense?

...or...

Does it perhaps mean that she's going to can the ID cards scheme before it becomes even more of a national disgrace?

none of the above

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