back to article MPs slam criminal assets recovery IT 'mess'

The agency set up to recoup the ill-gotten gains of criminals lacked the appropriate information systems, according to a group of MPs. A failure to invest in IT left the Assets Recovery Agency unable to manage either its case load or staff resources adequately. The claim is made in a report from Parliament's committee of public …


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£300,000 for a staff time recording system?

"The agency also decided against spending £300,000 on a staff time recording system"

Good for them! But this does beg the question why didn't they shop around and find a solution that they could afford. £300,000 LOL

Anonymous Coward

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

I wonder if the agency made the decision to hold back on investment in IT systems in its early years as virtually every government dept/agency is criticised for spending taxpayers money on technology projects. I find it rather strange that MPs are deriding the lack of spending on IT!


lame excuse for poor management!

Do they really expect people to believe that because they didn't spend money on a bespoke system that was potentially overpriced, that this excuses them from telling their staff and middle management from the ground up to ensure that they account for their time and submit a weekly report to their line managers.

My god! a bespoke spreadsheet could do this.

They could not account for which hours had been spent on which cases and which individuals.

Put this in a business context.

Company does work for client and creates a project to do this work. (a "Case" per se) this is assigned a unique ref number (Case number) management assign staff to this and estimate the amount of time it will take. This creates a rough budget that it should cost, and the staff assigned to this case report back on progress and how many hours are spent on a weekly basis.

If this is not done, then unless it's a fixed fee project, the client's project cannot be billed and you lose money.


With these simple day one principles, if you don't follow them, your company will go bust as you are not billing your client.

Whats happened here, Oh! I say. they lost more money than they gained.

Tarra then chuck, don't let the door slam you too hard on the way out.

Fantastic idea in principle (the concept of the department that is) let down by crappy management.


That's not just a lack of investment.

OK, so they had a rubbish MIS system, OK so they didn't have a central case database, both fairly unforgivable, but to not be able to provide a list of cases that they are working on ?

Even without the help of IT systems it's possible to store this kind of information on something we like to call 'paper'.

Failure to do so suggests serious systemic management problems far beyond IT investment, as does the fact that the best quote they could get for a time recording system was £300,000.

Since integrated database, MIS and case management could have been provided by a couple of salaried in house codemonkeys, as is the case in many orgs, for not much more than the cost of a couple of salaries (throw in a few MS tool licences if you don't want go the FOSS route), I can definitely go with the failure to invest angle, but not doing this, or doing it badly is much more a project management and administration failure.

Good IT at this level doesn't require much investment, so just saying "you didn't spend enough money" is whitewashing over the same old endemic project management failures we keep seeing again and again in public sector organisations.

As is the case in many orgs that I look at, the IT failings are usually a symptom of crap management processes, not a cause. Of course, it costs money to have someone like me come and tell them that, and who wants to pay good money to be told that they're idiots ?


Law enforcement doesn't have to be self-financing, does it?

They could have done better, but some criminals are £23 million worse off. I'd call that a result.


How Much?!

65 MILLION!! How many people where in this team?

Isn't this a lesson for organic growth - a standard business model if ever there was one: start with just ONE case, create a small team to deal with it, learn the lessons, take on more and grow from there...

I strongly detest any kind on private finance in public services, but do government organisations really have to throw out business intelligence too?


Cost Breakdown

£300,000 system = £400 software package and a few thousand in hardware, plus the standard markup for government agencies.


@ Mr Beast

"Fantastic idea in principle ...let down by crappy management."

Once again, evidence that the UK govt doesn't require that its managers be competent. (They're not alone in this madness, of course.)

Consider all the other, far more important, issues that determine who's hired and who isn't: date and place of birth, accent, political party, parents' and own educational level, sex, size of donations to NuLabour coffers, degree of political correctness, religion, demonstrable adherence to NuLabour thought paradigms, measurable contribution to workforce diversity, and endless other irrelevancies.

After all, the point of the exercise is to ensure that the NuLabour program to create the NuBritishMan progresses, not to get the job done. (If this reference is incomprehensible, cue the Russian Bolshevik idea of the New Soviet Man and enlightenment will be yours.)



Okay, El Reg, I'm going to ask you to stop publsihing pieces like this one as - if I burst into hysterical laughter in my cubicle one more time - they're coming to throw a net over me.

Government department is mismanaged? Really?

Failure to effectively use IT? You're kidding me!

Costing the Canadian GNP more than you brought in? I'm shocked!

And finally, the criminal fraternity aren't losing any sleep because of the current British administration. Oh stop! My sides are hurting!

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