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back to article DWP's Work Programme IT already broken at launch

The IT underpinning the Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) Work Programme was not fully functional when the scheme was launched and some of its key functionality is still not available, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report. The Work Programme, introduced in 2011, was intended to replace almost all welfare to …

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FAIL

of course it's broken

It's an outsourced government IT programme. How could it /not/ be broken?

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Unhappy

"Liable to increased risk of fraud"

I think *guaranteed* is the word you're looking for.

I'd expect there are some people who make a pretty good living on setting up a supplier to service the next-big-idea that UK govt's have and providing lots of "proof" they have achieved their targets for payment.

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Anonymous Coward

Meanwhile in another part of the forest, DWP are trying to set up their Universal Credit programme to run from October 2013 - and forcing HMRC (and by extension every employer in the country) to rebuild the whole infrastructure of the PAYE tax system in order to service their new toy (which on current performance probably won't work anyway). Oh good; a suicidal pace of change on probably the single most important IT process in the UK economy and all driven to meet a deadline that's of doubtful validity.

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Stop

Government Cocks IT Up Again

They should seriously be banned from spending any more of our money until they can show that they can be trusted with computing devices and software.

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Anonymous Coward

Surely that should be

Until they can be trusted?

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FAIL

Looks like the perils of the waterfall development process strike again.

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I wrote yards of stuff...

...to say that.

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A suggestion...

...for the public sector.

Spend less time specifying and more time making stuff.

The big boys will blow any budget you have with expensive consultants who produce little. And then try to get the cash for development (or configuration as they will want to call it) from change control because they know they underestimated. And putting another layer between you and the coalface can only cost money.

Contract the team yourself. Write proper use cases and an FRS that specifies forms, processes and data at the field level. Get a estimates from the person who is going to be the technical lead and don't try to horsetrade to get the price down. He has nothing to gain by inflating it and you both look good if it comes in early and under budget.

Stop changing your mind. Changes to your signed off FRS have untold consequences.

Get coders making stuff as soon as there is an FRS. If you feel you need a detailed design write it as the coding is happening. It's the only way it will reflect reality.

If you have an existing apps platform make sure it can do 100% of what you want it to. If you do the 80:20 rule plan on the 20 to take 90% of the time not 20%. Working around COTS and trying to bend them to you will is pain for everyone.

If the coders think there is an application or tool that will help them get it for them.

If the coders say they are struggling with an application in the platform give them the freedom to look at a different way.

Have Boardroom Pilots every week. Have the Tech Lead justify everything you see against the FRS. Tick off use cases to measure progress.

Listen to the people who are making it. If they offer different ways to do things to make implementation easier and quicker consider them. The only reason not to do things a different way is if they don't meet the requirements. In short let the technical people decide the technical issues.

Most of these projects are a bit of web stuff, some workflow and some data. It's not hard.

My current contract ends at the end of the month...

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Meh

Sadly, though...

"Stop changing your mind. Changes to your signed off FRS have untold consequences."

Stop changing our mind? This is the Civil Service, I'll have you know, young man, and we do things according to Standard Operating Procedure. We need to be reactive, flexible and alert to the changing global markeplace and plugged in to the political requirements of the day. Or so our consultant chappie tells us. Sorry, you can't see him today, so perhaps you'd like to put the bat back where you got it. Think he's out on the golf course somewhere.

Well, if it's really so important to you... Monica, any idea where the chap from Churnham and Fleece is today? On holiday? Any idea when he's due back? Not til the end of next month? No, no, it's just some technical fellow wanting a word. I'm sure it'll keep.

Sorry old boy, but you'll have to pop back. Was there anything else? Design freeze? Yes, it is a bit chilly today, what what? Turn the radiator on, there's a good chap.

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Anonymous Coward

My solution.

1. Design by prototype.

2. Demand a full CV for all staff, giving few if any clues as to the work.

Have techies read them all. Blacklist anyone who lies.

3. Don't move on, or pay for anything at all, until the buglist is empty.

4. If anyone fails or if any company fails, blacklist them until they fix it for free.

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@david 63

To summarize

Have the senior managers of the department manage the project *competently*.

I'd agree.

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@John Smith 19

To summarise the summary:

Have real consequences for failure, at all levels.

If the project goes overbudget in time or cost by more than 50%, demote the senior civil servant in charge because they are clearly incompetent. You can't get it that wrong if you understand what you're doing.

Over by 100%, gross negligence so fire them.

That way the civil servant in charge will do two things - artificially inflate the time/cost budgets before the project starts and actually do some managing.

The former is fine - less projects will happen, so we'll only get the ones that really matter.

The second means we might actually get the ones that really matter.

It'll never happen though, those senior civil servants are onto far too cushy numbers to allow the risk that they might actually need to do their jobs.

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Can you put a desk alert up for

government outsourcing plans?

A desk alert is like a keyboard alert but for warning of destruction of desk by head rather than hot liquid in the keyboard.

The contractor either lied about how much they could do the job for or were incompetent in not investigating fully. Either way my tax should not be going to them.

The DWP "underestimated the complexity of the project" it said after a big bamboozling lunch.

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Meh

"Quick and Cheap?" -- No wonder it isn't working. Sometimes the cheap and dirty approach is not always best, you get what you pay for and the time you invest in a project.

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Unfortunately...

...most of the time they _don't_ get what they pay for...

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Anonymous Coward

very unfortunately

they then get raped on the support because the non supplier has a monopoly.

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WTF?

"The NAO says the DWP should learn from its problems" how many times have we heard this about a failed gov IT project and how many times have we seen it reported that those lessons have been implemented?

No wonder tax payers don't think they get value for money.

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Devil

Let me suggest one under appreciated fact.

Most senior civil servants in the UK will be Oxbridge graduates with *decades* of successful career climbing behind them.

Those years of being at what everyone *says* are the best universities, followed by *decades* of shanking their rivals better than they have been shanked (thus demonstrating their superiority) make the idea that they might be ignorant about a subject (or rather they can get someone to study it for them and write a report they can judge effectively, which to them is pretty much the same thing) simply *unthinkable*.

Except in reality that is *exactly* what they are.

Just a thought.

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What's the common factor in Govt IT disasters?

Government.

Civil Serpents spend more time arse covering and ensuring risk and decision making lies with someone else than anything. It gets very tedious when the CS lead whizzes into rooms for the finger pointing and complaining, demands it's "fixed" and then buggers off quick to avoid being linked with the decision making process.

They like to be told the decision, then they are not liable when things go wrong.

Throw in a large portion of shifting requirement, late funding and more moaning and there you have the Government approach to IT.

Most of them know no more about managing an IT procurement than they would a yard brush procurement

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

its all a scam

an unemployed yoof on 40 quid a week is a drain but not as much as the training company who will get 200 quid a week for his bum on a seat for 13 weeks till they find him a job, and lets face it, they dont want to find them jobs in week one do they...

even after 13 weeks when he's sent back to the job centre, any job he takes in the next 3 months gets them a 500 quid bonus as they must have helped.....

well thats how it was in 2007, cant see it being different now

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Anonymous Coward

Completely different now..

You know those 'companies' that 'phone you and say things like 'We're conducting a survey on behalf of' and then proceed to ask you all about your insurance renewal dates?

Yes, that's where a ton of your tax goes, paying FE kids after they leave 'education' to prepare them for a job in the dynamic cutting edge world of business when we in-source all those Indian call centres because the Indian employees have decided it's too demeaning.

We are truly fscked as a nation if that's the best we can manage.

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