£34 million? Seems pretty trivial write off on a project of this scale - not a patch on the billions wasted on the NHS IT project.
The UK's spending watchdog has scolded the Department for Work and Pensions for so far wasting £34m of taxpayer money on its botched attempt to implement a one-dole-to-rule-them-all IT system. In a stinging rebuke of the government's handling of Universal Credit, the National Audit Office concluded that the DWP, which is led …
"Seems pretty trivial write off on a project of this scale - not a patch on the billions wasted on the NHS IT project."
That's because they've only just started, and they've only written off £34m of circa £425m spent to April. I've no doubt the 100 day review period is fully chargeable by the fat cat contractors, so the total to date will probably be around half a billion spent. As with NHS, FCS, or Nimrod, it isn't until they've spent billions they admit that things will never work.
But isn't it better to see this project being evaluated early enough to actually DO something about the cock-up instead of blindly carrying on while the losses mount?
Far be it for me to actually do something other than carp, but this looks like maybe there have been some lessons learned from the IT clusterfucks of the past......
I suspect it was a cunning ploy to stop the new £1,000,000,000.00 cash grab that has just been made available for NHS Trusts to have a go at the single patient record. Isn't it time that Govt learnt that announcing a big number to score political brownie points, prior to business cases being written to support the viability of the projects is a very silly way to invest public money. Then again, when the CIO of UK Government was previously teaching IT at Eton it is hardly surprising IT procurement continues be a shambles.
'Of course, it stopped short of suggesting a ministerial reshuffle as such a recommendation is outside of its remit. But one can't help but think that Duncan Smith will be the latest and most high-profile victim of the Universal Credit catastrophe.'
Bliss if it happens but if it didn't after he was found to have blatantly lied about his educational attainments and repeatedly 'misled' the country over the costs of fraud within the benefits system, it's not likely to happen just because he's flushed a large amount of public money down the pan.
On the other hand, if he IS booted out, let's hope he takes that other fraud, Lord Freud, with him.
My original thought when seeing the headline was IDS will be for the chop. It seems now though he's blaming the civil servants for a failure to correctly manage the project don't they all report to someone perhaps the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions?
Is that not then his responsibility and no one elses?
The universal credit was his baby from the start and if he did see problems two years ago and still went ahead then he should resign. Not bloody likely though at the moment he needs to line up a few more directorship's and board seats first.
" Blair was a dick, doesn't make Cameron an excellent premier." On the other hand both of them are a million times better than the twit who was PM in between. Aircraft carriers we can't afford, with stupid lock-in terms in the contracts, that just happen to be going to built by people who live in / near his constituency? Govt should've either cancelled the contracts and made Brown pay the charges, or kept them on and make him pay anyway. Then sued him for misconduct in public office.
You mean we should do something about those that landed us with 300-billion, and growing, PFI contracts ?
Like Thatcher and Major ?
Or maybe about the similar sized contracts given to private health providers to run hospitals/health services since the last general election, all tied to long contracts with onerous release terms ?
That is only the figure that has been written off. Wait until one or two years down the line, where the rest of the money that has been spunked on this attack on the poor is also written off when the project is cancelled. It's a seven-figure write-down at the moment, but who's tosay it won't end up being nine figures that are written off (read funnelled into contractor companies). I wonder how many directorships or other financial interests the vile IDS has with the suppliers?
So how much 34 million?
How much on the NHS system? That was in the billions.
34 million is like arguing about swatting a mosquito when in the back ground there is a herd of rampaging elephants about to run right over you. Remember, its the mosquito that's the important thing.
Now for the real issues
Why is the DWP spending 5% of all the money it administers each year on itself? Any finance company would love a 5% per annum charge.
Why aren't the pension debts reported? Actually that's quite an easy one. 6.5 trillion appearing on the books would blow the ponzi scam wide open.
According to IDS his it was all the IT vendors fault as they did not understand what universal credit was.
Additionally all he did was say how the previous government stuffed things up, that was 3 years ago, you have been making your own mistakes for over 3 years, grow up
From my peripheral experience of the NHS disaster that's because the customer (DWP & Mr IDS) didn't know what they wanted and couldn't actually define what the system was supposed to do.
When they could define it then some empire building uncivil servant decided they wanted something else and the IT supplier was forced to implement frig thin to include these arbitrary changes.
Yeah the provider didn't understand the system because you move the goalposts every 20 minutes and the difference between what you need and what you want (a profusion of petty fiefdoms)
To be fair I doubt anybody has an end to end understanding of such complex systems which have been added to and bolted together over 30 years. Having worked on very large gov projects, I've seen flow diagrams just showing where data sits and they are like a pile of spaghetti.
Spot on with the decision making or lack of and the change of requirements every couple of days.
When the Government (and I don't just mean the current mob) seemingly having got themselves into a bit of a hole re current debts; are seemingly so desperate so as to squeeze the public that they go down to the level of penalising you for having an additional room in your house - but then themselves go a spunk another load of millions upon millions on these continued projects which end up as fuck up after fuck up you really do have to ask who really knows best, and indeed - how better to spend the best part of billions of pounds on helping the people who really need it.
They are a mob. Nothing more. A cabal of self serving wankers. Time for a change me thinks.
penalising you for having an additional room in
your the tax payers house
The sooner they abolish the "house for life" crap the better. The tax payer is providing those houses at highly discounted rates - why shouldnt they have some say in how many people are needed to effeciently fill it?
Maybe because those in need of social housing weren't given a choice of where they were put when the local councils put them there, and they aren't being given the choice of a house with fewer rooms now, they're just having money taken from them instead. Painting those who live on the bread-line as the greedy perpetrators is just sickening when compared with the well-heeled thugs who are pushing them further into poverty.
The truth is that whilst there are scroungers in the benefits system, they make up a small number of cases, and in terms of parasites on society, those in control are worse, cost the tax-payer more, and live in much bigger houses. Most people on benefits, believe it or not, aren't claiming them out of choice, but out of necessity. Put down your copy of the Daily Mail, start thinking for yourself, and stop blaming the poor for the greediness of the rich.
Its nothing to do with the daily mail, its basic common sense, if you don't actually own the place you live in, you have to be prepared to move somewhere else when the owner of it asks, especially if they are actually giving you another free alternative... I don't blame the poor for the greediness of the rich, but as someone neither rich nor poor, i have no sympathy for people who think the house they are generously allowed to stay in, at the taxpayer's expense, rather than being forced to live on the street, actually belongs to them, and that they are entitled to stay in it for life. If you are being provided with a free house, the least you can do is move to an appropriately sized one when asked to! If you want to be in control of your own destiny and live where you want to live, get educated, get some useful skills, get a job, get a mortgage on a house you can call your own, do what you want with, and stay in as long as you want!
People who have actually worked most of their life, and just fallen on hard times, are grateful to be given somewhere to stay, they aren't going to argue over being asked to move occasionally to somewhere suitable for the number of people actually living there... I know plenty of people like this and they have fierce sense of pride, they don't want to be supported, they are grateful for everything they get and are doing everything they can to become self supporting again. One of my friends had to re-budget his life and struggles a lot, as he actually lost out considerably on the benefits his family got when he took a £30k+ job, he took it anyway...
I also have very little sympathy for people who wasted away their time in school, made life a misery for the rest of us, who now expect us taxpayers who actually did make an effort, to support them.
Anon, as I know that i have unpopular views. Actually thinking that paying attention in school, getting a decent education, learning useful skills, working hard and earning a living for myself, does not somehow make me the elitist and privileged rich, who only got where we are by stepping on unemployables, who expect the state to support them with exactly the same lifestyle and benefits as someone who earns it for themselves.
Here's the thing that Ministers don't seem to get through their tiny little minds.
lots of systems x lots of data x lots of sites lots of changes (over maybe a 30 year life) --> Big f**king problem.
And with 6 different major benefits (with partly overlapping partly non overlapping) claimants that problem will be huge.
25 Years I've been peddling the IT snake oil and this keeps happening and companies still make loads of money for failing to deliver.
Maybe the government should do it differently,
1) Offer seed money to build a system to 10 companies
2) Test the 10 products
3) Pick the best 3 for 2nd Stage seed funding
4) Test 3 products
5) Pick the best one for pilot with possible implementation.
What they should do differently is to lock the civil servants in a room with several reams of paper, some pens, some empty boxes and some string.
The boxes represent each system, the string is tied between boxes showing which systems are connected and the paper shows all the inputs and outputs with the details written on the paper.
Once the civil servants can show how they want the system to work using sheets of paper that are passed around, then they have a hope that the IT system can be built correctly to support this.
The major problem of the civil service is that they lack the ability to envisage the actual problem and therefore how the solution should work.
~> no they'd set a committee and appoint paper, string, box and pen guardians. Then they'd worry about the health and safety implications of paper cuts and people strangling themselves on string, so they'd set a committee to over see all that. Then they'd set up a paper, string, box and pen integration steering committee that the paper, pen, box and string guardians would report to.. At no point would they grasp that the paper, pen, string and boxes were meant to represent anything. After 15 years the head of the steering committee would get a knighthood.
I think there is an awful lot of truth in what you have written, from my limited experience in working in a civil service agency. But I think this bureaucratic bovine excrement partially comes about by the very pervasive unions which seem to dominate civil service organisations.
It's not just civil service, I work in a large bank. A fair few years ago, i was involved in one of the huge projects that they were focussing on to massively change, and improve, the entire infrastructure. After about a month the techies had a pool running on how much money they would actually waste before it got canned, as it was immediately obvious to anyone with half a brain that the direction it was going was untenable...
I almost wet myself laughing in one of the meetings, 6 months in, when a contractor actually piped up and said to one of the higher ups "you do know that your target platform is batch based, not actually online, don't you? So every yes/no decision that's currently instant will happen overnight on the 'new' system."
I think it was about £25 million in the end, I didn't win.
"What they should do differently is to lock the civil servants in a room with several reams of paper, some pens, some empty boxes and some string.
The boxes represent each system, the string is tied between boxes showing which systems are connected and the paper shows all the inputs and outputs with the details written on the paper."
Simple yet quite brilliant.
Thumbs up for the idea, not the clusterf**k that spawned it.
Hate shit like this.
When the governement were found to have acted illegally in claiming people _had_ to work for nothing or lose their benefit, they can bring in a law that rectroactively indemifies them from paying out what they rightfully owe.
Yet here, they just flush it down the pan and go back to the drawing board...
Perhaps the highlight of a criminal career is to become an MP?
Look, the money hasn't been flushed down the drain, it went into the pockets of the unscruplous or incompetant IT company directors and consultants. It went the same way as all of the other lost Government IT Spunking money, the same way as the Bank losses, it went into some other fuckers pockets. Strange that ! Stranger still, you think it turned into sewage..........
Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge (>>*LABOUR*<<) attacked the DWP's poor record on building the new benefits system, saying:
"Confusion and poor management at the highest levels have already resulted in delays and at least £34m wasted on developing IT. If the Department doesn’t get its act together, we could be on course for yet another catastrophic government IT failure."
Why is the £34m wasted, whats the basis of this argument? If its an Agile implementation then its built in stages so why is it wasted? The mention of weird and exotic project management seems to be more based on not understanding how Agile works?
errr the PAC is made up of all parties, just Hodge is the chair.
£34M (and the rest!!!!) wasted because they didn't do it properly and have nothing to show for it. As usual the companies involved have swarmed their staff in, made a bloody fortune and delivered SFA.
Though the fault lies in the DWP management and their utter incompetence to manage:
a) any IT project on a large scale
b) the IT companies (who are not charities doing it for the good of the nation, well not UK anyway)
IDS will be gone soon, they tried to get rid of him at the last cabinet reorganisation and some senior civil servants (dead wood) too. About bloody time.
If you have enough experience of Agile (which you appear to), I think you'll know that it is a very loosely applied term. I've seen many projects that have been approached as "Agile", which actually interpretted as "We didn't want to plan or spec anything, we just wanted to start coding".
If you imagine instead that the management were incredibly poor, and had not applied *Any* methodology to the project. What do you think they would answer when asked what their methodology was? Chaos? No, they'd pick that mysterious Agile thing they've heard of, which sounds like it doesn't involve doing much management.
No, FlatSpot, that's BS. Margaret Hodge, despite being a Labour MP, is pretty neutral and I have watched her a number of times in house of commons select committee hearings, she's good, she's got teeth, she doesn't take BS and she's straight up, I don't see any party political bias in her, in her questioning and any press statements she makes.
Don't want to appear defensive in respect of the big IT firms but....
Do you really think that just because they get paid they are not concerned about these projects? The reality is that big IT firms like small ones are desperate for their projects to succeed. Without successful projects the cannot get reference sites/stories that they can use to win new business. A failure damages their reputation and credibility (ask Fujitsu and Capita) with new customers in both public and private sector.
If the project is going titsup then they will be called in by the relevant minister who will blame them and ask for money back, which is often granted for fear of impact on their ability to do business. The big suppliers are just as badly damaged by these projects as the Government and people without access to ALL the facts come on forums like this and accuse them of fraud and even theft at times or simply lining their pockets.
But here is why they are used; SMEs good though they are cannot accepted the limits of liability that govt puts in to their contracts. Nor can they take on the full project since they don't have the hundreds developers, engineers and other resources that are needed to develop a large project. If you use multiple SMEs on a project you need to be able to manage them and the management company you use will not have any contractual lever to make them do what they are supposed to. Worse still they compete against each other to try and win more business whilst blaming other SMEs for the problems. And ultimately lots of SMEs means lots of competing claims in respect of failures by the others which are impacting the ability to deliver.
Don't get me wrong the big IT players do get wrong and more frequently perhaps than they should but like SMEs they are dependent on their workers to do their jobs properly and on the customer to know what they are doing. Universal Credit like all such projects is probably having problems because of a mix of failings on the part of those involved from the smallest to the largest, from contractor to customer.
I don't think anyone complains that the big IT players prime these projects due to financial risk. The problem is they do not bring in specialist SMEs to work on these projects, they try to do it all themselves. The big IT players are generalists they should bring in specialist SMEs to help with aspects of delivery, Database Specialists, Network Specialists, Agile Specialists, Middleware Specialists etc. etc. etc. and programme manage the lot. Do they do that? Do they F*** Instead they have their new grads and off shore devs google stuff to keep their margins up.
A good analogy is big civil engineering infrastructure projects. Do the big civil engineering primes try to shoe-horn every single one of their employees in to do the job right down to employing the brickies and chippies. No they build a supply chain of reputable specialist companies for steel, structural design, cladding, concrete pouring, architecture, costing, testing ad infinitum.
The IT industry supply chain is FUBAR because of these big IT guys and their greed.
Too many providers, like they're going to talk to each other effectively and have systems (such as requirements capture, defect management, test specification..) that are interoperable.
What you need is a single provider (supplier),a prime contractor that can then farm out work to subcontractors, but only if there is a very clear division of work: such as, one subcontractor work on software, the other works on the hardware build, delivery.
Even then, when you have a prime and sub contractors, from my own experience, you really want them using shared applications, otherwise inefficiency and mistakes creep in.
I wonder if this is compounded by typical government BS to have multiple suppliers (because of some crazy rules), perhaps to reduce risk of a provider going into liquidation, when the risk is massively increased by having so many providers.
Assuming 60 percent of the bill is for programmers, that means that 250 million pounds are for them, which equates to 2,500 programmer years. That;s a lot of coding, and it suggests that the best technologies, such as databases, were not deployed in doing this work. Government IT has to get out of the COBOL era, and the vendors stirred out of supporting dumb approaches.
For vendors it is self serving to use the "old" methods. Getting a detailed spec that effectively enforces legacy+, and then charging through the nose for inevitable changes is a lousy way of getting these jobs done. How much the vendor in place colludes to write the new spec is another issue.
Oh please, it will be nothing like 60% for coders.
I'd be surprised if more than 20% of the budget went on actual design and build. There are all those management layers, possibly some time on the now old fashioned and mostly non-existent 'requirements gathering phase', all the bunfighting, the red tape. Lets face it some project has to pay for all those motivational conference calls, telling you that "we understand that you are stressed by being forced to work 60-70 hour weeks and we are dealing with it... we have stress management courses you can attend", your annual training has to be charged to some project, same with filling in your 'balanced scorecard'.
Someone in the government REALLY needs to invest in a copy of "The Mythical Man Month". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mythical_Man-Month
And if the UC computer system is anything like as badly implemented as Universal Job Match, then god help those on benefits: https://universaljobmatchisarightshambles.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/universal-job-match-problems/
"It most places, that would be fraud and theft"
What can I say.
With all OTHER organisations it would be fraud and theft, for government it is pretty standard.
And we still have the NHS data to go....exactly where it will go is not known yet, but probably India or China.
At least the viagra emails will go to the correct people then..
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