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back to article Rubbish IT means DEATH for UK Border Agency, announces May

The UK Border Agency's hopeless IT systems are among the reasons why the Home Secretary Theresa May, in an unscheduled statement to MPs yesterday afternoon, confirmed that the UKBA will be axed. She told the House of Commons that the agency would be replaced with two entities: an immigration and visa service and a separate law …

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Ok here we go again

Not a surprise here, another waste of tax payers money from a poorly thought out and poorly executed idea.

Then again it's not the first time and it won't be the last.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ok here we go again

I really do wonder what Labour got right? it seems like everything they did is now unravelling as they didn't improve things, they just threw money at it.

Two wars, NHS target culture, university fees (Labour introduced them) etc.

I really don't see how Labour can be an effective opposition given their truly appalling record.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ok here we go again

"I really don't see how Labour can be an effective opposition given their truly appalling record."

Because poor people and scumbags don't have a very good memory - or a good understanding of anything much other than the benefits system...They will get back in. Unfortunately.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ok here we go again

You really think the current lot are doing any better? I am no Labour voter but this Govt is just as incompetent as the last one. Don't forget the Tories all through Labours terms were saying they would match spending and further deregulate the financial markets so our current position would have probably been the same!

But back in IT land, these systems and providers don't seem to get enough time to plan and then bed in. We are not talking about changes that should be made overnight, they take years of careful implementation and planning to get right but because its all so politically motivated (by appox 5 year parliament terms) politicians need it done too quickly to win votes.

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FAIL

Re: Ok here we go again

I never saw any mention in the post of any political party.

I think the criticism is attributable to all UK Gov Vermins, the colour of da flag or their favoured gangsta lean aren't the issue here, it's the "will to power" syndrome and it applies to all of those smug twats who think that they know what is best for us while shovelling money into their own pockets as they smirk away merrily behind their hands.

This whole IT lark has us being bled dry by top of the food chain sharks who probably can't even use a word processor or eMail properly by them selves, yet who still have a strong opinion to batter us with.

[Democracy] = [Hipocracy] says Alfazed

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Holmes

Perhaps not...

I mean if they switch the system off and refuse any new immigrants until they get a new system in place and then hire EDS HP to do it...

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Stop

Re: Ok here we go again

@Alfazed:

Don't confuse our political system with democracy, it isn't. It is a republic and a pretty poor one at that.

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Re: Ok here we go again

"Because poor people and scumbags don't have a very good memory "

And neither it appears do fuckwits on web forums. NHS targets were first introduced by John Major as part of the 1991 Patient’s Charter.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I am no Labour voter

I am.

But only just, because there really is not much to choose between them since Blair. Just maybe the evil streak is not so deep and continuous in my lot as in the other lot. But I'm not sure even of that now.

As to this mess , I think it probable translates as, "After to the current IT disaster, I have instructed my staff to produce an entirely new one.!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ok here we go again

My apologies I meant to reply to the comment on your post not you directly.

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Re: Re: Ok here we go again

I think there's a very good chance that when labour get in next time they will be unutterably shit.

However the tories run government to destroy it from the inside so they can privatise it. They have to make it really really shit so that when its privatised there's a minuscule chance of improvement for a while to give the impression its a good idea.

Not that that worked with anything else mind.

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Meh

Re: Ok here we go again

You missed ID cards and their spy on everyone database.

Well at least one of those hasn't been adopted by the current government

Yet

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Re: Ok here we go again

1) Who mentioned the NHS?

2) Whats wrong with having targets for patient treatment?

3) If the NHS is so good why did 1200 people die and no-one said a word till years later?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ok here we go again

"Because poor people and scumbags don't have a very good memory - or a good understanding of anything much other than the benefits system"

So the Conservatives are winning the propaganda war in your case. Lke the Nazis, Stalinists, Maoists, most far-right governments, they choose a group (currently new EU foreigners and people made workless by the wonders of the financial system) to demonise as the common enemy and you happily follow. Some people never learn. Clearly you have never studied history and never opened your eyes or thought for yourself.

I thought Labour were control-maniacs. This lot are even more undemocratic and dangerous: withdrawing "benefits", really a civilised society's support for those not doing so well out of the system; introducing secret court evidence so that even the defence can not know what is alleged; supporting press controls; wanting to close our borders (this goes both ways, as even Switzerland discovered and hence its ever closer links to the EU to open the prison door a little); supporting the import of cheap (but "highly qualified") labour rather than educate its own people .... Indeed, increasing the cost of education to levels unmanageable by the fellow citizens you despise and even those rather well off, having benefitted themselves from a universal and universally available system (do not see them offering to reimburse the subsidies they received, nor you I assume).

To think, I thought Labour were bad and voted Tory, only to get yet another bunch of self-interested, over-monied, nimcompoop, American-orientated fools or rogues.

As for IT: this is not just government. I work for a rather successful, Swiss bank, in IT. I assure you, the bodges, mess, bureaucraccy, penny-pinching and incompetence here put governments in the shade,. But it is cheap! The fact that the salary and bonuses of our top management would pay for one hundred or more of the many full time IT posts that are being cut, or the entire budgets of a couple of departments unable to do major projects properly ....

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Guy Fawkes...

...had the right idea.

Jonathan Aitken (Cons)

Jeffrey Archer (Cons)

Mick Bates (Lib Dem)

David Chaytor (Lab)

Miranda Grell (Lab)

Tom Wise (Ind)

all scum.

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Happy

Re: Ok here we go again

2) Whats wrong with having targets for patient treatment?

Absolutely nothing. However, targets can and do drive perverse behaviour. Say one of the targets for patient treatment is for a medical professional to treat 10 patients per day. They used to do 5 under a no target regime, now they have to treat twice as many a day. They treat 10 patients per day and meet their target, but the quality of that treatment nosedives and people die. Let's put in another target then to monitor quality. Our medical professional now has to ensure that they have a mortality rate of less that 0.1%, but still has to treat 10 a day. Can't do both so let's rebadge "medical advice" as treatment. O crap - waiting lists are going up now as patients aren't really getting treated. Add another target for this that now impacts on a previous target and drives other perverse behaviours. And so on .......

A bit of an extreme example but I am only trying to illustrate a point.

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Unhappy

Re: Ok here we go again@ TipsyTigger and Alfazed

"Don't confuse our political system with democracy, it isn't. It is a republic"

Cobblers to both of you, 'cos you're both wrong. We live in a numptocracy, where we are governed by numpties.

Some are elected numpties, some are graced and favoured numpties (that's the Lords, for the hard of thinking), and the bulk of them are career numpties, in the shape of our ghastly, useless and ineffectual civil service. Add a side order of Euronumpties, and you've got how this country is in the mess it is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ok here we go again

One thing to remember, whatever party is in the big house....the same civil servants run the same departments in the same way, and the GOV preferred bidders (SERCO, Fujitsu, EDS, ATOS whoever are still "courting" them with the same large expenses accounts)

Until one party changes the "job for life with gold plated pension" brigade the SSDG will remain

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ok here we go again

"I thought Labour were control-maniacs. This lot are even more undemocratic and dangerous: withdrawing "benefits", really a civilised society's support for those not doing so well out of the system"

When benefits become a lifestyle choice they need to be cut. End of.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ok here we go again

Which is fine as long as the minimum wage is actually enough to live on

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Anonymous Coward

How much money does this allegedly broke country waste of these ego-wanks for ministers... setting up different agencies and departments... then renaming/redefining them with all the usual new logo etc b/s that goes with it?

Between this and outsourcing it looks to me like the public/private pork barrel is the place where the most saving should be made - starting with ending the salaries and pension scheme membership of those wasting the most of OUR cash on these ego trip experiments.

I followed a UKBA truck the other day I assume it was headed to a local port in our county. - I wonder how much that custom built job cost us... aka how many families bedroom tax/ disabled peoples support payments/et al.

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Anonymous Coward

That's why quotas are needed. Then you can simply count how many you have approved and then say "sorry, we're full now". It reduces the workload. We have a 24 year backlog at the moment.

Labour scrapped exit checks too, so you recorded when someone left the country. At the moment we can't say they have or not.

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Stop

You push the crap department out.

You pull the crap department back.

In, out, in out

Shake it all about.

You do the hokey cokey

And you turn yourself about.

And that's how you fuck it all up.

UK government does the Hokey Cokey.

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Coffee/keyboard

Hokey Cokey

And now I'll be singing that in my head all day long...

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Anonymous Coward

It was designed as a Labour voter importation service by the last government. Best to start again....

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FAIL

good grief

here we go -- next 'BBC is a left-wing organisation', why do UKIP drones always use AC?

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Alert

Ooh goody!

Another opportunity to see how well the government can manage a Big IT Project!

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Joke

Re: Ooh goody!

Seriously, you need more evidence of those metrics?

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UKBA was given agency status

In order to keep its work at an arm’s length from ministers, in order to give ministers plausible deniability when the chit kept hitting the fan due to UKBA corruption, incompetence and a widespread culture of falsifying data.

UK Government policy means that everyone keeps their job, pensions etc.

Nothing to see here until the next episode. Move along.

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Re: UKBA was given agency status

Yup, Aunty Terry is not doing it for financial reasons - when you look at the how the agency pointed the cock-ups directly back to her interference - she s doing it out of spite.

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@g e

"Seriously, you need more evidence of those metrics?"

Many readers of El Reg are contractors, thus our Govts BIGIT fuckups are normally extremely good for us.

Huge amounts of money being throwen at things with no questions asked nor results expected.

From The NHS to Trains to local Councils to the Armed Forces, zero control over where the money goes and even better, no reflection on what market prices are compared to what the Govt will shell out for.

Good stuff for us, terrible for the tax payer

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @g e

"Huge amounts of money being throwen at things with no questions asked nor results expected.

From The NHS to Trains to local Councils to the Armed Forces, zero control over where the money goes and even better, no reflection on what market prices are compared to what the Govt will shell out for.

Good stuff for us, terrible for the tax payer"

Word

You are a true OC.

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IT again a factor - need to address the basics

My impression is that UKBA IT is dogged by some very basic problems, much as the ill-fated e-Borders project was. Fixing these would free the various immigration procedures from the IT mire which seems to pervade the departments.

The main problem seems to be that UKBA's technology eyes are rather bigger than their skills stomachs. Critical systems are using some ferociously complex products - not just one big platform but a collection of some of the hairiest (and most expensive) technologies available. Perhaps inevitably, designers' skills are insufficient to collectively exploit these products in any sort of agile or efficient manner, draining effort integrating X with Y and supporting a complex delivery process when it should properly be spent on implementing business-related functions.

Couple the above with a culture where designers are very "hands off" (SSADM-style generation of paperwork comes to mind) and senior technical roles are held by those with only a high-level understanding of the technologies and it becomes clear how difficult it must be to get a coherent design together, manage change and hit all the other buttons (security etc.) convincingly.

The solution must be to enforce a narrower scope and literally do more with less. Focus should be on a single, general-purpose platform, avoiding the temptation of specifying a bunch of huge products with overlapping functionality. Even if each of these were best-in-class, such over-egging simply guarantees dissipation of effort and uncertainty in timescales.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IT again a factor - need to address the basics

It's a bit simpler than that.

Having worked on a UKBA IT project as a contractor, I can tell you that political power plays absolutely blight the design and development processes. You end up being pulled every which way by clueless incompitards who have about as much technical awareness as your average dog turd. This negatively impacts the usability of the systems created, with the net result being that the poor sods on the ground hate the system that has been created to make their jobs easier. And so they complain to their management, who take this opportunity to 'rethink and re-imagine' the systems, and then the political power plays start which blight the design and development...

It's just one massive circlejerk. I got out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IT again a factor - need to address the basics

I was also a contractor on a UKBA IT project and second every single word about powerplays and circle jerks. The people in charge are retards being bullied by a bunch of wannbe f**kwit accountants at the treasury. The whole sordid dung-pile is being feasted on by scumbag "external IT providers".

I got out as well. Tw*ts the lot of them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IT again a factor - need to address the basics

If its any consolation, the external IT providers are sick to death of them as well. Requirements gathering is a joke, good project management is none existent on the UKBA side of things, and you end up in the rather bizarre situation where the guys working at the coal face for the providers are getting just as fucked over by the agency's lack of direction and indecision as the natives.

Mind you, that's a problem endemic to Big Government IT. It doesn't change, wherever you go. Unfortunately, there is no 'one size fits all' solution. Each dept has its own issues to work through. Although, IMHO, top of the list should be 'stop bean counters controlling projects, sack the guy on the measly salary who THINKS he knows what he's doing, but isn't paid enough to care, and actually pay decent wages to the good tech guys and girls who know this stuff inside and out'.

And accountability. There is none. Piss £20 million up the wall on a failed pet project? Pffft. What of it? It's only taxpayers money after all!

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Paris Hilton

No news here. Please move on ...

Okay so another publicly funded body makes a bit of a booboo.

But, dearest El Reg, Ministers and Governments merely set the framework, sign the authorisations and sign the cheques.

It is Whitehall and its mandarinery that makes for such gall stone troubling issues leading to irritable bowel syndrome (or was it Ian Duncan Smith?).

Yet the mandarins duck the flack and have well oiled procedures to ensure none is blamed, none suffers any impingement to pension or career status.

You have been had UK

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Anonymous Coward

home office regardless

I first had a privilege to be their client 20 years ago, and it was all a shabby mess then. Since that time, as I revisited at various stages, the amount of shabbiness and messiness have been rising and falling, but always in tandem, so it would always hover around 100% disaster. And from day one I heard a home secretary, after secretary, men, women, monsters and saints, year after year, all publicly denouncing the immigration service sham as it was before their rule, and promising the public to fix it once and for all. They have come and gone, and the home office have split, and merged, spawned sprog(s) and ate thee, as it was deemed fit to protect the (current) Secretary from the fallout, when shit spills out in public yet again. I had a displeasure to deal with them yesterday again, and while the website informativeness has improved, I dare say, dramatically, their phone system is a cluster fuck, to the point that three out of four options I chose for ended with a recorded message, I kid you not: "your call will now be terminated" (and they delivered on this promise, promptly). And then another automated message told me how to... navigate the website, literally - "you will see a menu on the left, click there, then click this, than that...."

Ah, but "what's your point mate"? Well, no point, just long-term observation. Given that Ms May, until now, has imitated her predecessors in just about every possible way (spurious statements, spurious decisions, same outcome) I come back to my point, i.e. "home office regardless"

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Re: home office regardless

Maybe something along lines of:

Dear Minister

Give us the money NOW! and goodbye. Off you go.

?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: home office regardless

more like ministry of silly walks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wippooDL6WE

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Flame

The rise of the machines

It's everywhere - I went to an AT&T store to order new phone service last week and stood there looking at the scenery while the lad filled in a form on a tablet ... which told him to call his supervisor, who came out of the back to tell me that you can't order POTS lines at an AT&T store - you have to give them your phone number and someone will call you... and the poor sod with the tablet - he has a holster for it, walking around on the shop floor with a tablet stuck to his hip.

Tomorrow I have a doctors appointment - they called yesterday to remind me that they are now computerized and that I need to show up 15 minutes early to fill in new forms ... and to have patience as the new exciting service opportunities may mean a delay in all appointments - I am not making this up! Did I mention that I made the appointment in January via their web-based visit management system and that this is the first available appointment? No doubt they will blame it all on Obamacare - that's like the NHS to you Brits but run by Drs Trotsky and Lenin.

Tablets are fsking shitte for data entry.

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Pint

Re: The rise of the machines

they are now computerized and that I need to show up 15 minutes early to fill in new forms

God that made me laugh. You, not so much I suppose.

Have a beer on me as compensation :)

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My theory

Is that right now, to get on in your management career, you must drive change into the organisation and be progressive.

Just doing things better is career suicide. And it seems just as true in private sector as public sector...

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Trollface

I'm surprised

That they Nu Labour aka 1 nation Labour hadn't PFI'd it

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Flame

Home Office -> Root of most evil?

ID cards

Spy-on-the-internet

Border Agency

I've heard stories of BA PC's taking 30 mins to boot. But surely this is a UL?

I propose Operation Clean Sweep.

Round up the management staff

Nuke from orbit.

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Anonymous Coward

Ministers to blame

From my time in Home Office I can tell you that we were tearing our hair out every time a Minister stood up in Parliament and moved our timescales. This happened with monotonous regularity - "Yes, I can tell you today that we have brought our delivery of that system forward by six months."

Of course, this came as news to everyone who was working on that system.

There needs to be a change in Ministerial behaviour. They need to work with the IT, not just shit on it from a great height. It ain't going away guys - work with us and we'll deliver, work against us and we're all screwed.

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Anonymous Coward

"£385M Computer system..."

I worked on that, and it was contracted with such ineptitude it makes me want to heave.

Basically, IBM were contracted to deliver a set number of requirements in each code drop. If that set number of requirements was not delivered in that drop, IBM would NOT throw more bodies at it (oh no), instead the requirements rolled forward into the next release.

You can see what's coming. The requirements piled up into subsequent releases like snow in front of a Cumbrian snow plough. No release was ever properly delivered in the two years I spent there.

And another thing: key elements of the solution were delivered in Siebel. IBMs UK exposure to Siebel? Nine tenths of bugger all.

IBM were up for an award for that contract. Home Office sure as shit wasn't.

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Anonymous Coward

Applicants for Visas will IT skills to fix Visa applicant system need not apply for Visas. Or something.

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About damned time

BUT..... they'll replace a crap IT system with a crap IT system - because doing otherwise will result in the civil service being more efficient and shedding staff (Bloated departments full of civil serviants shifting paperwork is just another way of hiding real unemployment figures)

Revenue and customs is even worse than the UKBA. Computerisation is supposed to reduce manual requirements, not increase them by 400%

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