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back to article Southwest One made overpayments of £4.6m

A software glitch has led Somerset county council to make overpayments of £3.7m, the authority has confirmed. It was part of a problem affecting Southwest One, the shared service in which the council is involved, resulting from the introduction of a new SAP software system two years ago. Delays with the automated system led to …

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Flame

Oh great

"any payments we do not receive back to this council will be charged to Southwest One"

But what is Southwest One. It's a consortium of IBM and, guess what, Somerset County Council, Taunton Dene District Council and the Avon and Somerset Police Authority.

I'm damn sure that IBM will not pick up the whole extra costs, so they will have to be recovered from operating revenues from the consortium, with the result that the costs charged to their customers (i.e. themselves) will have to be recovered by higher prices for their services in future years.

OK. Tell me again. Who's paying?

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any payments not received back

should be reported to the police (Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)) under the money laundering act. Overpayments where the recipient has been informed of the error are treated as handling of stolen goods/money laundering under UK law and have been for several years now.

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Holmes

Outsourced IT service f*cks up

More at 11.

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FAIL

Continues a long saga

Well having had to try to work with/around this b####dy system and the suits at IBM I can say the whole thing a total shambles and there's even more of my hard earned tax pounds being wasted and misspent at every turn. I pray that someone will come to their senses and end this failed white elephant of a project.

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Meh

@Phillys

I totally agree, but the problem is, how can you in-source it. It will cost an absolute fortune to re-build the infrastructure that was sacrificed when Southwest One took over. Virtually none of the server side systems are even in Somerset, so they cannot just take control, and there are probably none of the original staff that ran the previous systems around, and the data-centres probably re-used for other purposes or sold off.

Even if you distribute the existing staff back to the members, you will probably not get enough people in each to achieve working IT departments, and many of the people you would get would be the ones that were not able to prevent this situation from happening in the first place (and that is putting it kindly!)

I cannot but think that the original agreements should have contained dissolution points and clauses that would have allowed the Southwest One to be dismantled in an orderly fashion if it was found to not work. I think I agree with ILG about the original project, in that there appeared to be murky things happening under the covers and out-of-sight when the whole project was being planned and the contracts drawn up.

I think that the whole thing should be referred to the NAO, who should look at it with a critical eye and a fine toothed comb.

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Somerset CC

Still waiting to know who was responsible for pissing away £25 million of our money in the Iceland crash. I guess we are paying for that...

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Thumb Down

failure clause

The government should make it law that every major IT contract must include a clause which holds the supplier liable for certain foreseeable failures. The IT outsourcing crowd are like a group of vultures circling the British Isles. Where's my El Reg icon when I need it?

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Holmes

Foreseeable failures?

Isn't it a safe bet that any large govt style IT project will fail? cf Santayana: Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

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FAIL

Only the tip of a decidedly murky iceberg...

This tale is really an example of how not to implement a system, it's been beset with problems from the moment the procurement process began.Poor specifications, lack of skills to negotiate a contract of this complexity. Rumours of legal action by one bidders against another. A dogmatic insistence on pressing ahead with scheduled implementations despite it clearly not being ready. User acceptance testing was dropped and even at the point of go live it was failing test scenarios. Jumping forward a couple years and there were still serious issues when I left (only a few months ago) some modules still hadn't gone live, or don't work as they should - the recruitment module didn't work at all, the procurement module was flawed as certain functions didn't work eg the function which ensures that recipients of goods and services can't authorise their own orders etc. I recently heard that Southwest One has bought in another payroll processing system in order to keep the custom of the new academy schools! If I wasn't a council tax payer I'd find that funny.

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