back to article Capita, Serco, Sopra Steria to write cheat-sheets for UK.gov in case they collapse

Capita, Serco and Sopra Steria are drafting "living wills" with the government in case they collapse – a measure agreed to after the Carillion debacle. After the multinational construction firm was liquidated in January, the extent of the government's reliance on it became clear as it struggled to gather the information …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about handovers?

    I happen to know of a case where one of those named companies lost the contract to another similar company and, since they owned the work instructions, ordered them shredded on the last day.

    Same people kept on working in the same department but had to re-write their own 100 pages of cheat-sheets from memory the next day.

  2. macjules Silver badge
    FAIL

    Getting your "priorities" right ..

    Priorities here include supporting small businesses, providing employment opportunities for disadvantaged people and reducing harm to the environment.

    Crapita: "We're too busy destroying state infrastructure to worry about small businesses"

    HySteria: "We didn't dump THAT much waste on the environment, did we?"

    Sercon: "We employ lots of disadvantaged people in our prisons"

  3. The Pi Man

    Really?

    Write quality documentation for a large number of complex systems in "a matter of weeks" ? Someone needs a reality check.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      Now to be fair, nowhere does it say "quality documentation". It's a cheat sheet, so...

      Step 1: Turn it off.

      Step 2: Turn it on.

      Step 3: See Step 1.

  4. steelpillow Silver badge
    Coat

    Proforma living will:

    "If [company name] ceases trading or delivering on its commitments to UK Gov, for whatever reason, then all its proprietary code shall immediately become licensed under a GNU Public License such as GPL3 or as appropriate to the system usage such as LGPL. Any licensed usage of proprietary third-party tools, such as compilers, used to prepare the code for installation, shall at the same time pass to UK Gov. Agents for UK Gov may take any reasonable steps to recover the source code and place it in a publicly accessible repository, and to recover usable copies of licensed toolsets. Agents for [company name] are forbidden to impede this process in any way and are obliged to support it to the best of their ability."

    Hey-ho, I'll get my coat....

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Proforma living will:

      "Agents for UK Gov may take any reasonable steps to recover the source code"

      Easier - just require it to be kept in escrow.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    I don't suppose

    All of these outsourcers could write documents on how to get things done when they fail to do them on time, within budget or correctly.

  6. Adam Foxton

    Isn't this just having proper documentation?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      See the first comment. It's having proper documentation and letting the government keep a copy.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      @ Adam Foxton

      Absolutely agree. This situation has been enabled by the total lack of oversight from government management. In any proper company, whether you outsource or not, you have a list of your sytems, who has access to them and IT must have a list of all servers and the admin credentials to them.

      Not having that list is just complete and utter incompetence.

  7. tcmonkey

    I look forward to seeing how they're going to write these "cheat-sheets" when seemingly 99% of these companies have no idea what they're doing in the first place. Surely someone needs to actually know how something works before it can be documented?

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Something the BoE should think about doing with banks.

    It's a case of when, not if.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    This might be a strange idea but how about the clients just keep keeping an eye on what's going on? That way they have the knowledge all along and might even be aware that there could be a problem developing. Even stranger idea - if they become aware of a problem developing they may actually be able to take suitable action, either to ward it off or mitigate the consequences for HMG, before things go too far.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      Keep an eye on what's going on?

      And then have to take responsibility when it goes pear-shaped ?

      Are you out of your mind ? How could they get their OBE with that kind of blight on their record ?

  10. kevin biswas

    These jokers make the best case for nationalisation.

    Sorry to sound like some kind of communist here but if I were Jeremy Corbyn one of the first things I would do on getting to power would be to declare all these joker organisations publicly owned and then try to run them properly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: These jokers make the best case for nationalisation.

      Nationalise them? Oh dear god no, we don't want to take on that kind of mess.

      Stopping outsourcing critical parts of government service delivery, and insourcing service contracts back from the usual suspects when come up for renewal should cover what's needed. But you have to make sure that any problems caused by those companies during the insourcing process are taken into account when they bid for future project work - and that they *know* it will be taken into account.

      1. kevin biswas

        Re: These jokers make the best case for nationalisation.

        Good enough.

  11. grizzlybaz

    I remember when I was contracting for one of the major central govt departments, which had IT services contracts with all three of these charlatans (plus a few others besides). Crapita, in particular, were a royal pain - they lost a contract to TCS and point blank refused to hand over back ups of the applications, citing all sorts of commercial nonsense. End result was that they managed to extend their contract by about 6 months while the mess was sorted out.

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Let me rewrite that:

      The bit of UKGOV failed to write enought detial i nthe contract and identify who owned what.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice little earner

    When is the government going to realise that asking these companies to do something like write a "living will", it costs them an arm and a leg.

    So tell us what is the cost of writing this stuff.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We dont even have proper documentation in the business, how do we write it for anyone else

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