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back to article MPs blast 'alarmingly weak' management of one-dole-to-rule-them-all

The botched implementation of the Department for Work and Pension's Universal Credit system looks set to lead to a multimillion pound write-off of IT assets, MPs said today. The Public Accounts Committee - echoing a report from the government's spending watchdog in September - reckoned that at least £140m will have been wasted …

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Paris Hilton

must be written-off

"Some of the IT assets that have been delivered cannot be used in the programme and so must be written-off"

Never heard of ebay? (I am making the assumption this is hardware)

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Boffin

Re: must be written-off

Once that USB stick has held a document marked RESTRICTED it must be disposed of using CESG protocols. Which don't include listing on t'Bay!

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Trollface

Re: must be written-off

That's right. The USB must be carefully unencrypted, then dropped off on public transportation.

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J P

One thing the PAC haven't factored into the overall cost is the fact that HMRC had to rush their RTI implementation in order to meet the DWP's (now discredited) timetable. That in turn had knock on effects for every single employer in the country, not to mention payroll bureaux. And of course because HMRC had to rush something they'd been wanting to do for ages, it isn't as good as it should have been, but we're stuck with it now. So there's another cost to taxpayer and business of the botched UC project.

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Get Out

An IT Project Manager is in charge of this abortion.

Name him. Shame him. Sack the useless pillock.

But what's the betting none of the above happens but insert <big fat payoff cheque/>?

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Re: Get Out

No, IDS is in charge. Any cost overruns should come from his own personal fortune.

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Re: Get Out

Agree. And he, his immediate family and their offspring for the next 50 years should be made to live in a 2 bedroom council flat in Scunthrorpe.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Get Out

2 bedrooms would be over occupying.

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Isuppose the inmportant metric is...

How much has this cost, versus how much has it 'saved'. In other words, how many millions of pounds have been frittered away by the DWP whilst people who depend on benefits to survive have had their lifeline cut?

Red-top headlines aside, most people who claim benefits are the poorest in society. The incumbent government's continued demonising of the poor is disgusting, and every single pound wasted on a system which will probably end up being scrapped (as a good proportion of government IT systems generally are) is a pound which could have gone towards helping a vulnerable portion of society rather than government IT contractors.

But then, ministers don't get directorships with council estates when they leave office, do they, so how could they get their kick-backs if benefits money actually went to those who needed it?

More people than ever are depending on food banks to afford to eat, energy costs are rising well above inflation and people are now starting to be made homeless as a result of the 'bedroom tax', but this is alright, becuase these are all 'scroungers', not 'strivers'. IMHO, IDS is scum of the worst kind - self righteous, arrogant, and dead wrong.

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Meh

ever thought...

there is a small amount of competence, spread in a very thin layer across society....?

P.

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They keep running stories about how government IT programs are falling to pieces, but I never see any job vacancies for people to actually get the thing working.

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Anonymous Coward

That's because...

all of HM Gov's favoured IT suppliers are all busy offshoring anything that isn't nailed down.

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Very depressing...

.... having worked on a successful (i.e. on time, on budget, not hit the headlines) very large DWP IT system I know it is mindbendingly complex to implement social security IT systems. It's a shame that the guys doing this one clearly underestimated the task and screwed up so royally.

However, given the complexities, I wonder how may commentards would have done any better?

UC as an idea was around long before IDS moved in to Caxton House - from what I understand everyone had been too scared to take it on previously. Looks like they were right!

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Re: Very depressing...

Indeed.

I got to know one of the architects of one benefits system. It's one of the worst nightmares. It's based on law - which is written in vague English by a bunch of lawyers and amended to be vague enough to be voted through by a bunch of Oxbridge humanities graduates.

Amended from time to time - not by re-issuing the document but by overlaying a series of amendments.

Adjusted by case law - as a result of claimaints taking the government to court and then

Implemented according to different practices by different local and government departments.

And then there are special cases and the judgement of individual officers.

The only people that understand it are a few select old men in software houses and departments.

Bet they weren't drafted in.

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Unhappy

Re: Very depressing...

"UC as an idea was around long before IDS moved in to Caxton House - from what I understand everyone had been too scared to take it on previously. Looks like they were right!"

Apparently so.

IDS. A man too bald bold for his own good?

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No problem. Take it from the pension funds of the morons responsible. Let's see if that results in an improvement in government IT procurement.

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Huh?

Savings of £38bn projected? Is that annual? The six benefits included add up to around £75bn*, so half of that is going to be lopped off? I dare say massive deprivation WILL save money, in the short term...

* http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/08/uk-benefit-welfare-spending#zoomed-picture

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Re: Huh?

@ Just_this_guy

"Savings of £38bn projected? Is that annual? The six benefits included add up to around £75bn*, so half of that is going to be lopped off? I dare say massive deprivation WILL save money, in the short term..."

It makes me wonder how much they are giving away to the wrong people. How often they are fined for screwing up. And what massive overhead costs in admin and red tape they have.

Then add on top how much is scammed (which I expect is potentially a lower number than all the above).

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Re: Huh?

I heard a government estimate a few years ago (the practice was to round to the nearest half-billion!): benefit fraud - around £1.5bn; administrative & system errors - around £1.5bn... That's about 1% of welfare budget for each.

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Bronze badge

Failure poker...

Another Government sponsored clusterfuck where the four of a kind of usual suspects are once HP, IBM, Accenture and BT. The only way to beat that winning hand (read losing) is to add in Crapita for the straight flush.

What a fucking shambles. Doesn't anyone EVER learn.

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Bronze badge

Re: Failure poker...

You can't put the words "politician" and "learn" into the same sentence.

The reason they can't, and won't learn, is because none of this stuff has any relevance to their taxpayer-subsidised lives. If they were suddenly to find themselves at the mercy of the DWP in real life so that they understand why it all goes wrong and why it's so important to the downtrodden to get it right then we'd see some cluefulness applied.

But it's not going to happen is it?

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Facepalm

$140m should be deducted from all...

MP's in the form of a pay cut until the money is repaid, then look how well managed IT will become.

Governmental IT is just a bloody joke.

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Megaphone

His wife nagged him to do this...

...Iain Duck-egg Smith would have been happy to put his feet up after his failure to become PM, but having married into money (Couldn't even get that right) found himself at the mercy of his wife's family name for which failure is not an option!!

WIFE: "Better to be remembered for being a BASTARD who kicked down at people who couldn't kick back

Iain, than a PRAT of a LOSER...now start kicking down at the huddled masses quiet man or no more

Upper-Middle-Class pussy for you".

IAIN: ....................................."Oh all right then".

And from that we find ourselves here today 140 million quid down on the deal just so Iain can have a

quiet family life....A DIVORCE WOULD HAVE BEEN CHEAPER IAIN!!!

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WTF?

eh?

Just random misogynistic bullshit or what?

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Most of these projects are managed by careerists who want to win some quick browny points.

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Unhappy

Aren't watchdogs meant to *bite*?

But it won't.

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They most definitely are, but here they run straight into the "hand that feeds you" wall and stop short.

After all, you're not going to jeapordize that OBE and improved pension we have waiting for you for some silly IT project, now are you ? Of course not. That's a good man. Carry on then, chop chop !

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Pint

There will be another boondoggle to implement the same thing, but with tartan screen-saver, for an independent Scotland in 2015.

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Holmes

Managing a Government IT project (in the UK)

I honestly think that there is only one way to properly manage an IT project in a government environment : name a project responsible (minister, or whatever other useless head figure you have lying around), and have him nominate a Project Manager, to run the project, and a Project Saboteur, to undermine it.

Since the current culture is that the Project Manager will do everything he can to hide issues and pretend everything is fine until it blows up in his face, it is imperative that an official Saboteur be around to act as a whistleblower and stop the show before it blows up.

Of course, if the project succeeds, the Project Manager gets the OBE, but if it fails, the Project Saboteur gets it, so it seems like a fair deal. In both cases, the Minister gets off spotless because his management of the whole thing went just as planned, which encourages him to actually pay attention to both (giving the Saboteur a fighting chance).

I can't see how this can't work and result in better IT project management overall. On the other hand, I have little experience in political backstabbing outside of having viewed Yes Minister, so I most probably haven't the faintest idea of what I'm talking about.

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Trollface

Keynes recommends

"£140m written off"

Or about 103 £ per unemployed in helicopter money units.

Are we out of that recession yet?

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Anonymous Coward

How Govt IT projects are managed....

Only worked on one Govt IT project, and in general it seemed to be quite well run. Where it got interesting was with the assurance team. They would turn up to do their assurance, be all nice and smiley, have some basic questions, about x and y. listen to the answers and then go away and write a report basically saying that on x and y the project seemed to be on track, and in those areas they were satisfied with the validation program, but that they had limited visibility about a-w and z, and were concerned about the project going forward.

You had to admire their professional skills when it came to arse covering.

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competence bias

IDS. A classic Dunning Kruger.

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Civil servants

Thought they could do it themselves with several hundred contractors. Epic fail.

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Anonymous Coward

The irony is...

UC was meant to simplify a complex set of benefits and their systems and lead to a reduction in fraud and error.

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Unhappy

This is *not* a trivial task and anyone who scoped it *properly* would know this.

Let's see.

Welfare State founded 1948.

Computerization started?? Say 50+ years. IBM & ICL mainframes (probably COBOL and proprietary add on stuff). Porting to some other platforms?

BTW those 6 benefits are (IIRC) the headline list. In fact we're talking about maybe 200 benefits.

In 200 systems. With (potentially) 5 000 000 (for very common benefits paid to individuals) records

Hint. A smallish system can run 50 data files with 100s of indexes over them.

Bottom line. Any project manager who understands this and still does not want to bail out is a)Very stupid or b) Has a very big set on them.

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