back to article Capita's UK military recruiting system has 'glitches' admits minister

A defence minister has told Parliament that Capita’s pisspoor Defence Recruiting System (DRS) has “glitches”, following reports from The Register giving a glimpse inside the shambolic system. The Typhoon in Battle of Britain colours Signing up for the RAF? Don't bother – you've been Capita'd READ MORE During Defence …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Cuts?

    Possible strategies

    1) Identify lots of little things and scrap them. e,g, Stop including toilet paper in ration packs - let the troops use leaves.

    2) Identify a few big and useless things and scrap them - aircraft-less carriers, Trident

    3) Sack all the junior ranks (wages are expensive) but keep all the admirals and generals

    I wonder which they'll choose? Of course a good start is to sit down and decide what the Armed Forces are actually for in the early 21st century, and then decide what they need to look like to do that job. They're still planning for a re-match of 1939, with nukes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cuts?

      The Armed Forces are for fighting needless wars with the Americans in the middle east where the leader of said Arab country doesn't do as they are told and to protect the flow of oil at the price we want to pay.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cuts?

      You should be teaching strategy at Sandhurst!

      2) Identify a few big and useless things and scrap them - aircraft-less carriers, Trident

      The carrier costs are fully committed. And we couldn't sell them because whilst a few developing nations would happily buy a 99% discounted aircraft carrier, none are stupid enough or wealthy enough to commit to the F35B boondoggle. The best we could do is scrap them, and cancel the F35B. Contractually we're probably still on the hook to buy a load of F35, but at least the A variant isn't QUITE such a camel.

      Trident is largely a sunk cost (other than the £2bn a year operating cost). But the Trident replacement, that's worth cancelling, as that £200bn could be far better spent. Even if we need nukes, the answer is to develop nuclear warheads for cruise missiles, and then the Navy's attack subs can do the deterrent far more cheaply. The shorter range and lack of overkill compared to ballistic nukes would be irrelevant.

      But the biggest saving of all would be to seal the doors and windows of MoD Abbey Wood with all the employees inside, and just keep them there until the oxygen runs out. Then build a huge concrete sarcophagus and roll it over the site, like the one at Chernobyl, just to be sure.

      1. HmmmYes Silver badge

        Re: Cuts?

        Just take the Carrier cost out of Scotlands budget.

        It was all a Brownian bit of pork, let the Scots bear the brunt.

      2. Tim Jenkins

        Re: Cuts?

        "Trident is largely a sunk cost "

        LOLZ

      3. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: Cuts?

        "develop nuclear warheads for cruise missiles"

        Nuclear armed cruise missiles are not in any sense a Strategic Nuclear Deterrent.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Cuts?

          "develop nuclear warheads for cruise missiles"

          Nuclear armed cruise missiles are not in any sense a Strategic Nuclear Deterrent.

          Very true.

          Moreover, a potential adversary would have no way of knowing if the incoming missile has a conventional or nuclear warhead until it hit its target. You can see how a commander's decision on how to retaliate would be guesswork with terrible consequences if s/he got the wrong option.

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Cuts?

      The 2018 Defence Review should find:

      Unfortunately we are no longer able to provide a valid defence of the United Kingdom in the event of an attack. We most strongly recommend that an All Party Taskforce be created to come up with an inoffensively-worded, formal certificate of surrender that every British ambassador would be able to deploy in the event of anyone declaring war against the UK.

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Cuts?

      You missed an option:

      4) Review the MoD and how it works and cut all the time-serving wastes of space (usually former high-ranking service personnel) that infest its carpeted corridors..

      1. paulc
        Mushroom

        Re: Cuts?

        You missed an option:

        4) Review the MoD and how it works and cut all the time-serving wastes of space (usually former high-ranking service personnel) that infest its carpeted corridors..

        perhaps we need to shoot an Admiral or two...

        to encourage the others...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No justice

    Why did it have to be Carillion going bust? I don't deal with Carillion, so can't say whether they (as a company) deserve it, but I'd have been so much happier to have heard the newsreader announce that Crapita were going down.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: No justice

      Your wish may yet come true, let's see what the second half of 2017 brings.

      How's that 'turnaround' year going, Capita? ...Sheesh, sorry I asked

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: No justice

      1) Carillion goes into liquidation

      2) Cabinet whitewashes the official receiver from any blame into his/her failure to action the warning points raised in the 2016 KPMG audit report, or to notify Cabinet Office or NAO.

      3) Lots of small supplier companies go into liquidation

      4) Carillion re-ermerges after a few months in a new form with a new name, Carrion, promising to rescue supply contracts and carry on the good name of its predecessor.

      5) Trebles all round in Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms A/B/C

    3. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: No justice

      @ Ledswinger: I'd have been so much happier to have heard the newsreader announce that Crapita were going down.

      Part of me wants to agree wholeheartedly with you, but at the same time I am concious that if Capita fulfills its contracts in a way similar to Carillion then a large number of individual employees will find themselves out of work through no fault of their own and a (large?) number of subcontractors might find themselves nursing a large pile of unpaid (and large) invoices.

      I know "shit happens" but I would not like to see individuals and subcontractors (and their employees) thrown aside as a result of corporate greed (or worse) on the part of a fairly small number of self - serving senior managers and directors.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No justice

        I am concious that if Capita fulfills its contracts in a way similar to Carillion then a large number of individual employees will find themselves out of work

        Your point about subcontractors and other unsecured creditors is valid, but for the most part, the actual delivery employees will be fine - those jobs HAVE to be done, and whether the contract or business units are bought or not, those jobs still need doing. OTOH, most of the head office employees will be out of a job. The main problem for most delivery employees is the hellish uncertainty. I've been through a corporate insolvency, and I know how that feels (and I was one of the head office types that lost their job).

        But it doesn't stop me wishing Crapita would go bust.

  3. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Carillion

    Bringing the Carillion fiasco in, at this point, is very appropriate. The common issue is that the government seems to have a commitment to buying the work the state needs doing from large outsourcing businesses rather than just defining what needs doing and paying someone to do it. Some of this is indeed best contracted to, say, a large building company. But much of it is just a service that would be better performed locally by directly employed staff and no shareholders, no complex of pyramid management and no parallel private/public management structures.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Carillion

      But much of it is just a service that would be better performed locally by directly employed staff and no shareholders, no complex of pyramid management and no parallel private/public management structures.

      I see you're not familiar with the Civil Service who would organise and oversee those directly employed staff. The most ineffectual, workshy, duplicative, bureaucratic pyramid of wastrels I've ever come across, both in my time as a civil servant, and in all my subsequent dealings with the organisation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Carillion

        But at least they are our faceless bureaucrats

  4. frank ly Silver badge

    Capita?

    I thought they were known by a different name here.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Capita?

      If you look at the bottom of the article you'll see a "Tips and corrections" link. Click that and let them know they've spelt it without the 'r'.

  5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Well colour me surprised.

  6. adam payne Silver badge

    there have been some glitches in the new computer system, those are being ironed out but I’m confident they will see recruiting in the army increasing."

    Bugs that shouldn't have made it into the live system.

    Who is paying for the fixes? hopefully not we the taxpayer.

  7. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Used to be a lot simpler

    When they put a shilling at the bottom of a beer glass.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Used to be a lot simpler

      Just to be pedantic, it was actually a mug - the point being that you could not see the coin until you finished the mug. There is an unsubstantiated story that the adoption of glass bottomed tankards was a natural evolution to deal with the ‘threat’. Probably a pile of pants as many such stories are

  8. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

    "How is ROYAL AIR FORCE recruiting going now?"

    "BRITISH ARMY recruitment is proceeding according to our (cough, mumble 'revised') plan, thank you."

    I guess that goes some way towards explaining why we are getting computer-controlled aircraft that won't (can't) fly without an always-on connection to the permissions database - we don't need real pilots any more, so it doesn't matter which Service they come from.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    "Bungled IT Systems,* " you say?

    Are they cheap.

    They sound like they should be.

    In the spirit of a company buying up the carcass of Carillion and naming it "Dodgy Building Services" ("We'll do it all. We're Dodgy." Too f**king true).

  10. WibbleMe

    Every time someone in my team tells me they have done a job I say to them from 20-years experience in the industry, check check and check again.

  11. SVV Silver badge

    The never ending story........

    Howe about from now on , they only get a headdline story here when they DO manage to deliver a system that's not a money wasting fuckup.

    Now THAT would be news.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Glitches you say....

    I know its always fun to bash Capita, but the real cowboys, Hunter McDonald

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Glitches you say....

      I was wondering how long it would take for someone to mention Hunter MacDonald.

      1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

        Re: Glitches you say....

        I see integrity runs through their DNA.

  13. paulc

    Use Cases in the Customer Requirements Sspecification?

    didn't they consider any as part of the 'requirements set'?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      They might have, but given that they apparently didn't do any serious testing, we might never know.

      I am honestly in awe of all these government projects that fail so publicly and completely and yet nobody is ever, ever sacked on any side.

      If I go to a customer site to do a job and I bungle it up like that, I'm pretty sure that 1) I won't be paid and 2) I'll never set foot in that place again. I might even be liable for a lawsuit.

      But these guys waltz in, pick up the contract, pocket the money, distribute bonuses and, when the time comes to deliver, mumble sheepishly and put their hand out for more money in order to correct errors that never should have been there in the first place.

      Okay, I know UK government has a specialty in not being able to decide what it actually wants, endlessly changing specs and otherwise making life very difficult for people who actually want to get the job done, but I would think that the military would be less prone to endless waffling and more focused on getting what they need, knowing what it is they actually need in the first place.

      So I tend to think that, in this particular case, it is Capita that screwed the pooch big time. They should know better.

      But that won't keep them from getting another contract in the future, right ?

      That's what I don't get.

      Come on, people, there is enough history to demonstrate that you might as well gather ten local, small providers, give them the contract and see what happens.

      Given how much money you've already wasted, it couldn't be worse, and it just might be better.

      1. Fonant

        Okay, I know UK government has a specialty in not being able to decide what it actually wants

        The UK government actually wants to pass public money on to their mates (and their own future careers) in private business.

        Handing over public services to private business is an excellent way to do this: the big boys take huge salaries and bonuses, the business goes down with huge debts, and the tax-payer is forced to bail them out so that public services can continue. None of this is the fault of the government, of course.

        The losers are the many small sub-contractors and the employees, none of whom are big enough to be heard. PFI, of course, went one step better, guaranteeing future income for years in advance, as well as a big contract now. Don't get me started on rail franchising...

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "I am honestly in awe of..government projects that fail so publicly and completely

    and yet nobody is ever, ever sacked on any side."

    There are time honoured methods of blame avoidance that the UK senior civil service excel at.

    Actually it's worse than that.

    This was not a "Green field site." There was an existing system in place, so Project Management Tactic #1 should be in effect even without a useful contract.

    PMT#1 is "Develop question list around existing system" IE "What does it do well," "What does it do badly," "What do have to workaround" "What is so bad you cannot work round it and must avoid at all costs" etc.

    Isn't the whole point of things like Agile the notion that people don't know exactly what they want in the abstract, but when you put something concrete in front of them they are pretty good at saying what they like and dislike about it?

    And they have had something concrete in front of them (the previous system from HP) for years to form an opinion.

    IOW The good bits of what they have + improvements to how it does it to remove the rough bits.

    That's a baseline, and it seems they couldn't even deliver that.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What was demonstrated shows a lack of understanding of what the Armed Forces needs

    I'm curious as to what is special about the MOD recruitment process compared with others; advertise job, accept applications, shortlist, check eligibility, invite to selection process, carry out selection process, send rejections and offers.

    And if it is different I bet you nobody wrote down what was needed before hand, just sayin' - no love for Capita here, I work with them on a daily basis, but there is such a thing as a two-way street when it comes to requirements and acceptance testing

  16. TonyDeaf

    If the govt could learn how to use Google, then they could find any number of SaaS recruitment solutions that are bloody good, and they could self host if they asked nicely (i.e. ££) for security purposes.

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