back to article Whitehall's ball-breaking efficiency tsar quits for a quiet life in Oz

A high-flying Australian apparatchik who was parachuted in to save the coalition government's crisis-hit Universal Credit benefits system has quit the British civil service. David Pitchford, head of the Major Projects Authority, had a formidable reputation as a Whitehall fixer-upper, tasked with troubleshooting big ticket …

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Sounds impressive.

His last words must have been "I won't be back!"

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If you've been drafted in to drive a gov IT project that's gone south...

...you're ****ing in the wind. The only thing civil servants do well (apart from drink tea and fanny about with flexitime) is mount resistance to change. There are packs of them in fortresses defended by self created bureaucracies that have been handed down and refined over the aeons by generations of civil servants before them. You've got to wade through that lot, then do it again and again and again until you finally forget what the hell you were trying to do in the first place. Then you go barking (I've seen it happen to others) and then you quit. No one in the civil service is going to let you do anything better, faster or cheaper because that means redundancy and that lot are in there for the pension.

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Re: If you've been drafted in to drive a gov IT project that's gone south...

A harsh if somewhat apposite summary. Mind on the basis of my experience this also applies to a heck of a lot of private corporate organisations as well.

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Re: If you've been drafted in to drive a gov IT project that's gone south...

Sounds a lot like a trip around one of the BOFH's convoluted IVR systems.

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Re: If you've been drafted in to drive a gov IT project that's gone south...

you're ****ing in the wind. The only thing contractors do well (apart from drink tea and fanny about with flexitime) is mount resistance to change. There are packs of them in fortresses defended by self created bureaucracies that have been handed down and refined over the aeons by generations of contractors before them. You've got to wade through that lot, then do it again and again and again until you finally forget what the hell you were trying to do in the first place. Then you go barking (I've seen it happen to others) and then you quit. No one from the private sector is going to let you do anything better, faster or cheaper because that means redundancy and that lot are in there for the bonus

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Unhappy

Lets see if the MPA uses *regular* update reports.

It damm well should.

Here's the thing about most big projects.

They are business change projects, part of which is the IT system.

IOW a hell of a lot of it is about people and specifications. Fail to get the people feeling they are at least minimally involved and at least adequate specs to build the systems (or more likely the interfaces to the existing systems) and you are f**ked.

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Re: Lets see if the MPA uses *regular* update reports.

Before I engaged in any redesign of the processes, I tried to spend a week or two with the people involved. What parts of the job do they like, what is normal, what they hate. Toss in getting a feel for the personalities and the culture was important too. From what the head office wants and what the adopters want I'd spec it all out, get approval (never an issue) and wander off for a couple of weeks. Then come back, get it set up and let the people beat up on it while I'm tweaking things to what they want (and the head office, again not an issue at this point since their amazed at the employee buy-in).

Lots of projects done under time, and definitely under budget because I listened and took the advice of the people that matter. Turns out the line people had the best ideas on what needed fixing in the first place. Saved me a ton every which way. BTW, in government, the military, and business worlds.

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Anonymous Coward

Potentially Australia's gain

Hopefully someone will ask him to take a look at the NBN.

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Universal Credit system, which is universally loathed

It must be a small universe because I know A LOT of hard-working taxpayers who were sick and tired of seeing their hard-earned pounds being taken from them by a Government hell bent on offering 'working is a lifestyle choice' policies.

On the contrary, there are a HUGE number of taxpayers who support the Universal Credit system.

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Re: Universal Credit system, which is universally loathed

To be fair I thnik a lot of people support the principle of the Universal Credit System but its the half-arsed and blinkered way the coalition are hell bent on implementing it thats the problem.

You can't 'fix' a welfare system that has evolved over decades in a couple of years just be installing new IT!

A flatmate from Uni works at a Job Centre (or whatever the DWP are calling them this week) and she says that staff generally are supportive but there has been no engagement with them as to how to apply it and so they feel devalued. Given they are the poor saps who are the public face of the organisation they are the ones who will get the flak so surely it would have made sense to talk to them?

But then common sense and government policy are rarely seen in the same postcode area let alone together!!

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