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back to article New UK immigration IT system late and £28m OVER BUDGET

A £385m computer system being built for the UK's Border Agency and Border Force to process immigrants' paperwork is a year behind schedule and £28m over budget. That's according to the National Audit Office (NAO), which today published findings from a study it undertook in March into the stumbling IT project. The NAO said border …

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FAIL

Only £28m over budget? I assume that the £385m mentioned was a revised budget of some some, and that the original budget was about £50m?

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Anonymous Coward

HMRC's RTI programme appears to be overshooting rather well - £96m over its £105m budget - so this one is probably going to be the next government IT poster child... [HMRC dispute those figures, but it's all as clear as mud here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/transparency/exceptions_jan12_mar12.xls They haven't actually specified the units of overspend, but I rather doubt that it's pence]

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@ Steve I

"Only £28m over budget? "

The ICW programme was to deliver projects over five years from 2009, so a report looking at spend up to the end of 2011 financial year is only year two of the five (now six). The real cost over-run won't become apparent until the programme is more complete, and given the delay in reporting and analysis we'd be looking at the definitve bad news becoming apparent in the accounts for financial year 2014 and later, but these won't be released and analysed until summer of subsequent years. Depending on the IT contract terms, it might well be possible for the suppliers to delay variation billing until nominal completion. The reason you'd do that is so that when the press find out, during the parliamentary recess of 2015, nobody important will be available for a grilling, and the minions can parrot the usual lines about "related to prior years, lessons have been learnt, won't happen again".

But of course, until the suppliers have huge penalty clauses built on "meets original specification, on time, on budget", it will happen again, and again, and again. The only way it can be stopped is if the suppliers have a stake in the success of the project, and that means making them deliver the rigour and project management that the public sector evidently can't. That also means making sure the spec is detailed and agreed up front, and that variations are controlled by the supplier. If they agree a variation, then it becomes their job to do it within original budget and original timescale. It might seem unfair that if the client demands mess up the project, the vendor gets hit with penalties, but that's the way it needs to be. If the suppliers don't like that, they needn't bid.

And pigs might fly, of course.

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Seems reasonable

The government gets to announce a reduction in immigration and can save money by cancelling a failed project.

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Anonymous Coward

It will all be a lot simpler when we have universal credits and all IT is under one (fragile) roof

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Anonymous Coward

It won't be under one roof - http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/article/universal-credit-ministers-rule-out-central-deductions/529638 (you may need to register with Aweb to read the article) - HMRC & DWP are working on integration as we speak (RTI is working fine for employers, but there are rumblings that the feed to DWP is busted) but they aren't going to share infrastructure.

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps if they didn't go for the lowest quote and the original specification was accurate then this wouldn't keep happening.

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WTF?

£385 Million

OK so please will the person who ordered this get a grip?

YOU COULD HAVE HIRED AN ACTUAL ARMY OF CODERS.

Just staggering amounts of money for what? A database, an OCR, some on-line and offline forms, a few work flows and a front end to tie it all together.

A pants system £85M

Corrections to pants system £100M

Further corrections to system £100M

Even more corrections to system £100M

Somebody else to blame = priceless

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optimism bias

Is that how you say "lied your ass off" now?

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Go

Re: optimism bias

Ask G4S, they know about being economical with the truth.

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Shocking really how nowadays £385,000,000 doesn't actually register as a large sum to lose.

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Unhappy

If they actually did get a properly working system 1 year late and £28mln over a £385mln budget (+7%), it would actually be a triumph compared to the usual mess in gov IT.

However I gather from the article that actually it's 1 year behind and £28mln over without there being a working system that has been delivered??

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Anonymous Coward

HSMP

Did they outsource this to people who want to immigrate here?

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Re: HSMP

No they outsourced the IT design to IBM:

http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/26283.wss

Note that UKBA have a "Head of Immigration". For my money this is aprt of the problem - sack this beggar, and employ somebody with the job title "Head of Stopping Immigration". Returning to your point, IBM probably employed people to work on the contract who wanted to come here.

A very interesting point is that IBM have admitted they did the design in the link, but a document search of the 44 pages of the full NAO report doesn't mention IBM a single time. Even searching on terms like "contract" just brings up nebulous comments that don't really refer to the procurement arrangements.

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Re: HSMP

It would seem that these days you're crazy to use IBM for applications development or outsourcing: their last good developer is about to be thrown out the door. See the recent set of articles by Robert Cringeley.

This one is directly relevant:

http://www.cringely.com/2012/06/14/an-it-labor-economics-lesson-from-memphis-for-ibm/

Or, for all his recent columns on Big Blue, look here:

http://www.cringely.com/tag/ibm/

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Bronze badge

Staggering

There seems to be an awful lot of money going to somebody.

How do I get into this chickenshit outfit?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Staggering

"How do I get into this chickenshit outfit?" No, Tom_, ChickenShitCorporation did the NHS.

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Trollface

Re: Chicken Shit Outfit

There's a zip, somewhere...

And, when they finally get this system in place to deal with all those immigrants' paperwork -

is about the time someone realises that the problem is actually the immigrants who don't have any...

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Trollface

They should've let the immigrants build it.

It would be on time and budget.

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We don't set limits on the movement of capital around the world, and have minimised duty on the movement of goods, so why bother restricting the movement of people?

Our economy would benefit from no immigration controls.

If you are really worried about the total population, we just need to deny citizenship and kick out of the country people born here who didn't get any qualifications at school.

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Terribly sorry Dave, but that's bollocks

The economy and the country would be utterly devastated by a vast influx of millions of people, as every unemployed person in the entire world who could raise the cash for a ticket came here.

Unlimited immigration only sort-of works if you have an empty world, transport links are very low capacity and no local infrastructure or other support is required. Even then it's nasty.

The influx rapidly overwhelms the local infrastructure and local population, resulting in poverty, death and disease.

Take a look at history and tell me if it actually ever worked - and remember that it was never unlimited.

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@davenewman

"We don't set limits on the movement of capital around the world"

Nope, and that's worked out well hasn't it? Europe and the US are busy beggaring themselves by borrowing foreign money, China has spent an unfeasible amount on infrastructure investment that will end in tears, the banks have gamed the system and bid up emerging market currencies and commodity prices, HSBC and others use free flow of capital to launder drug money, dodge tax etc. I agrre that capital controls are a bad thing in general, but that doesn't make a case for free flow of everything.

"and have minimised duty on the movement of goods"

Resulting in the whole wage arbitrage driven shift of manufacturing to the far east, where the lucky inhabitants can live in dormitories, enjoy Victorian style employment rights, and the industries can pollute and bribe to their hearts content. OK, so you get plastic tat cheaper, but with UK unemployment (ILO) above 8%, and a further couple of percent in the "discouraged, not looking" category where's the net benefit to the UK?

"Our economy would benefit from no immigration controls"

It currently doesn't have any effective immigration controls, as the census data shows. Given the mess we're in, do you really think that we've benefited? WIth something of the order of 150-200,000 immigrants each year arriving in the UK, we need to build a new city the size of Coventry, every single year - do you really think that is a credible idea in the short to medium term, even? When you do restrict immigration, then the people who can get in are more determined, and you get the best qualified, or simply the most determined people coming in. Those people, I agree, do contribute to the receiving economy. When you have unfettered mass immigration then you just get a random bunch of dossers, with a few good people if you're lucky. I'll ignore how this creates a brain drain for the "donor" economies, but that's a problem for them.

"If you are really worried about the total population, we just need to deny citizenship and kick out of the country people born here who didn't get any qualifications at school."

So those people failed by the state will be kicked out of it? And the assumption that no qualifications means no benefit to society seems unwarranted - as a general rule the most successful people I know aren't academic.

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Anonymous Coward

"So those people failed by the state will be kicked out of it?"

People without qualifications are not necessarily failed by the state. Some are just lower-ability and *should not* pass. You cannot give prizes to all- that's Labour's mistake, and fails those with the qualifications more than those without.

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Re: "So those people failed by the state will be kicked out of it?"

"People without qualifications are not necessarily failed by the state. Some are just lower-ability and *should not* pass. You cannot give prizes to all- that's Labour's mistake, and fails those with the qualifications more than those without."

I have a lot of sympathy with the sentiment, but in an era when education is compulsory up to age 16 (soon to be 18), I don't think it is acceptable for people to leave school with nothing. If somebody is only suited to non-academic activity, then start them on the road with an NVQ, rather than wasting five to seven years of their life studying for devalued GCSE's that they'll still never pass. If somebody is "thick" (and I accept that plenty are), is it that child's fault that they leave education with no proven capabilities, academic or practical? I still say, "failed by the state".

There's a whole range of practical things that schools could usefully teach, but don't even try. Take touch typing - if schools would get everybody to touch type, then whether you work in a call centre, in admin, or go on to higher education, academia, rocket science or whatever, its a skill that is useful to the student and to future employers. In fact, legible handwriting and basic literacy would be a useful outcome that isn't being universally achieved. Or for that matter, discipline and attendance.

Our performance in international educational league tables shows progressive decline (even according to the NUT-friendly Grauniad), despite a decade of Blair's "Education, Education, Education" promises. So either our population are becoming rapidly less capable of learning, or our teaching system is failing many pupils, and becoming worse in this respect.

As for failing the more capable, I agree there. But in the unlikely event that the present government do try and alter this, any changes will be opposed by the teaching unions, and then undone by the next Labour government.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "So those people failed by the state will be kicked out of it?"

And I agree with you that those pupils who are better suited to practical rather than academic studies should be encouraged down that route.

Actually, perhaps the government could bring back selective education and reverse the conversion of everything into a university?

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Re: "So those people failed by the state will be kicked out of it?"

"Actually, perhaps the government could bring back selective education and reverse the conversion of everything into a university?"

I'd like them to bring back selective education, but the Condems briefly toyed with this, then ran away crying, and the snivellers of the opposition are implacably opposed to anything that requires teachers to pull their fingers out, so it ain't going to happen.

Regarding universities, the raising of fees is causing applications to dry up (except for moneyed toffs and students with parents in the poor house). The higher education sector will soon start to contract for lack of demand every bit as much as lack of funding, but realistically it will be the former polytechnics that bear the brunt of this, and many will close. That will be another outcome of the Labour party's perennial education fuck ups - just as their attempts to erase grammar schools hit pupils from lower income homes worst, so Blair's attempts to make everybody a graduate over-expanded the provision until it wasn't sustainable, and will ultimately see the former poly's decimated, removing the infrastructure that provided good access to NVQ's and HNDs (as well as degrees to those who the universities sniffed at).

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Thumb Up

*whistles through teeth*

£385 million eh? You got done up like a kipper mate, dontcha watch Cowboy Coders on C5?

It'll all have to go but I think we can squeeze this job in and have you shipshape for Xmas, £99m excluding tea and biscuits, Stefan and Jacek will be round in the morning to start tearing the code down.

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I've been in ICT for about 20 years and the constant theme has been that budget over runs are not rare.

Was this the same back in the 50's, 60's and 70's?

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Anonymous Coward

Cunning Plan

You get this all the time for most projects especially the Government projects which tend to be grandiose and nationwide in coverage if you tell the absolute truth about costs most of them would never be approved and the "Usual suspects" who bid for these contracts realise this.

Since the Freedom of Information Act it's a brave minister who cancels a project once it's more than a few million in, particularly if it was previously widely trumpeted as a "ground breaking new system that will save the country billions" to the media, (the cancelled ID card system was the poster child for this, Government optimistically included biometrics and all sorts on them to get a "state of the art" revolutionary system they could brag about to other countries ministers, only to find techies with practical biometrics experience were rarer than hens teeth, last time I went through a UK airport the automated "passport reading" terminals which were the closest they got to the ID card vision were taking their last customers prior to being dismantled, much to the delight of the customs officers) .

From my contact with Government management they always seem to treat IT as a way of reducing head count rather than a tool to make their staff's lives easier, this mentality stretches way back to before the IBM PC, this coupled with the fact they always hire one of the "Usual Suspects" to carry out the work who will invariably ship over a few hundred green Indian graduates to carry out the work, and the Government dept responsible will change the requirements every other day, ensures that we end up with a crap system which the poor sods who actually have to use it will loathe and despise, along with a number of fundamental coding flaws which means any output is crap (See Child Benefits system etc.) meaning millions in remedial work to make the thing run properly with a quarter of the originally specified features.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cunning Plan

Woops meant Child Support Agency not Child Benefits.........

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Unhappy

And now...

..it has to be promotion, pay rises and large bonuses at HMBF for a job well done. Another reward for failure covered by long term, civil service contracts.

All overseen by MPs, too many of which stuff the House of Commons. It is time for 450 of these parasites to go.

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plus 1 for the sub-heading

Maybe that's an old joke on the old joke, but it's new to me. I take my hat off to you, Kelly Fiveash et al.

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Coat

Hmm

The reason they are having so many issues with this system is the Jamaican lead programmer is having issues getting de software de ported...

/gets coat

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