back to article 'No evidence' UK.gov has done much to break up IT outsourcing

The scandal around the compulsory liquidation of British multinational construction firm Carillion has put the UK government's addiction to outsourcing in the spotlight. Yet it is a practice that has been going on for many decades - not least in public sector IT. For some years now the government has made noises about breaking …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Why should they?

    I was just watching Yes Minister yesterday, the NHS episode. Nothing has changed.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Why should they?

      I was just watching Yes Minister yesterday, the NHS episode. Nothing has changed.

      Except that the amounts and the incompetence levels are far higher now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why should they?

      >Nothing has changed.

      going back even further, the East India Company which incidently ended up being nationalised.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why should they?

        But as today, it played its part in enriching a small minority at the expense of everyone else (and not just the 'overseas subjects')

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Why should they? Nothing has changed.

      Yes minister first aired in the UK in 1980, when Margaret Thatcher had just come to power.

      And AFAIK outsourcing first started to be looked at as the magic wand that would a)Save money b)Improve services.

      It is now 38 years since then.

      With honest accounting I'd expect you should be able to answer the question "Does outsourcing save money or not?" with 38 years of data quite easily.

      But I bet you can't.

      it sounds like a lot of Govt IT procurement is done like a lot of UK Gov Defense procurement.

      With a great deal of staff (but not quite the 23 000 the MoD uses) and very little apparent improvement in the end product.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Endless

    Waiting for the endless commentards going "why does a government billion pound deal always got to the usual three letter companies?"

    The answer is simple, does any other IT shop have the ability to purchase, install, integrate tens of millions of pounds of stuff and then be able to wait for monthly payments until the government accept it (possibly never)?

    That's why "smaller" suppliers can't get a piece of that action because they don't have access to the money to front it on behalf of HMG.

    I'm sure you could break it up maybe, you could force the main contractor to use hundreds subcontractors to spread the love out across the UK IT sector. Obviously your project management costs would go through the roof but hey, socialism doesn't come cheap comrades! I'm sure it would work swimmingly too.

    I don't know, say, one server each, build it and cable it yourself.

    Perhaps coding could be divided up into batches of 1000 lines or something.

    You could do all of this, but effectively you'd end up with... the same model as Carillion.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Endless

      @AC, Re Endless:

      Here's the thing though. About ten years ago I did my first foray into (relatively) large public sector working.

      The company I was employed by at the time wasn't huge. It turned over around 30-35million a year.

      The full value of the contract was around £15m

      The contract was written such that it had checkpoint payments. So after each successful phase, a payment was due. If the payment didn't arrive, work would (and more than once, did) stop.

      The contract was delivered ahead of time and under budget despite these occasional issues and large parts of it are only just being considered for renewal.

      There is a perception that there is no control for the smaller companies but that isn't always true.

      Now I do agree that had the costs being incurred were in the tens of millions then no, the company I worked for couldn't have funded it up front, but an awful lot of contracts aren't of this size but still go to the usual big companies that still fail to deliver and still get paid. And that needs to change

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Endless

        Yes Tony but the ones that people talk about when they think of government IT failures aren't the small jobs, its the massive jobs.

        Something you do see from the public sector now though (and some of the big private sector clients) is that they break up their IT outsource projects to multiple suppliers.

        They imagine that this increases chance of success....

        It doesn't simply because ABC (who run the servers) blame DEF for the application having bugs and DEF say its GHI that run the network that its their problem, when its actually JKL who run the desktop who have the issue.

        Which of course then needs a large retained IT department to try to sort out where the problem is and manage disputes between those suppliers. Which is expensive OR in a lot of cases, they don't bother trying which means they are REALLY at the mercy of intra-supplier feuding.

        Seriously, this is all day every day for me now... (AC btw because I work for a ABC/DEF/GHI/JKL)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Endless

          The SMEs simply can't afford to invest the money up front to bid for the contracts. It can take months to get tender documents in place.

          The tower model wasn't about increasing the chances of success, it was about being able to shift small bits of the pie between suppliers, eg infrastructure management split from infrastructure hosting. Move the management but keep the kit in the same DC.

        2. rh587 Silver badge

          Re: Endless

          Yes Tony but the ones that people talk about when they think of government IT failures aren't the small jobs, its the massive jobs.

          Yes, but sometimes the massive jobs aren't actually that massive.

          Take the BBC's DMI project which was only cancelled after Siemens had burned £98m of license payer's money.

          DMI was supposed to move the BBC to a tapeless workflow, and also introduce tapeless Media Asset Management.

          Seems like an epic job - moving the BBC's many and varied TV/Radio services to tapeless and digitise/archive decades of tape and stills?

          Well not really. There are lots of off-the-shelf tapeless workflows on offer, whether that's for radio or TV. Start somewhere small - move BBC Midlands Today or Radio Derby over to tapeless, trial it, start pushing it to local. You don't spend years trying to build an epic system with the intention of having a big magic "switchover" on R2 right before the Chris Evans show.

          Likewise media ingest and management. Solved problem. Ingest/archival is easy, it's just labour intensive (lots of interns loading tapes and inputting metadata and rights data). Same with MAM - how do we think Associated Press or Getty manage to distribute and syndicate their content?

          DMI is sort of continuing but as an in-house project. And that's the way it should always have been - BBC Technical Services working with industry to identify a preferred Workflow, and then identify a preferred set of Media Ingest/MAM vendors and performing a gradual rollout. Yes, for a period there would be parallel systems in play "Oh, Radio Stoke since last year, yes that won't be in the tape archives, you'll have to go into DMI", but that's basically inevitable.

          The idea of outsourcing one-system-to-rule-them-all to Siemens never made sense.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Endless

      Waiting for the endless commentards going "why does a government billion pound deal always got to the usual three letter companies?"

      One problem is that too many of these billion pound deals AREN'T billion pound deals until the Civil Service are involved. Look at Crapita's £1.3 billion pound military recruitment system. Ignoring the fact that the bunglers haven't made it work properly, the functionality of a recruitment system is simple transaction processing. The number of new applicants is what, around 100,000 a year, and actual recruits around 15,000; In IT terms that's nothing. The number of system users across the entire military & MoD ought to be no more than a few hundred. The system interface could run in a browser (so no special client software), the web front end would be within the easy capability of 99% of the UK's web coding shops. The database structure ought to be embarrassing in its simplicity, and the reporting functionality could be specified by five competent people in one day, and coded in about a week. System interfaces for on-boarding and external data checks would add some effort, but fundamentally are bread-and-butter IT, and shouldn't take more than a few days for each link. Most of the functional capability could be inefficiently coded in Excel, or VB (not advocating that, just making the point that this is as far from rocket science as you can get).

      If the retards of the MoD had locked down their "business requirement", they could have let a contract for perhaps £30m capex, with maintenance of £3m a year, offered properly staged payments for build, and that would easily be within the capabilities of any number of larger SME IT shops, the sort of companies who only survive by making things work (unlike Crapita, Carillion, HPE/DXC, Accenture etc etc). Even with hosting and system operation, its easily within the capability of a competent SME. With suitable encryption it could be run on rented commercial racks with multiple levels of redundancy. Military recruitment is far less complex than say an EPOS system interfacing with accounting and logistics systems, and there's plenty of SME working in that market, delivering systems for large and demanding customers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Endless

        Nearly every big government contract I've ever worked on had endless problems with the client not knowing what they want, coming up with a spec (over the top), then changing it, then changing it some more and repeat repeat repeat.

        Sure all those contract variations are nice £££££ for the IT supplier (in fact contract variations are where you make the money out of a client be it in IT or construction or whatever) but what happens at the end of the day is that a headline comes out saying "ABC couldn't make the Ministry of X's IT project work". When actually its the Ministry of X who f*cked it up.

        Its not even as though s £150 million deal is a massive profit for the supplier either. Sounds like a lot of cash to you and I, but the costs are huge - far beyond what you'd imagine. You'd be lucky to make 5% over a 5 year contract term.

        1. Steve Evans

          Re: Endless

          Nearly every big government contract I've ever worked on had endless problems with the client not knowing what they want, coming up with a spec (over the top), then changing it, then changing it some more and repeat repeat repeat.

          And that in a nutshell is it. The people asking for the system and specifying the system have never done an honest days work in that department operating the existing system (be it an IT based one or paper).

          They don't know the day-to-day issues, and couldn't even provide a basic flow-chart of the tasks that need to be performed.

          The only way to properly understand the system you are trying to design is to sit with the users of the existing system and watch (and question) them.

          But no... Multiple layers of management/bureaucracy mean the person writing the spec has no idea how things are done. When a delivery is finally made, the users all go "WTF?!" and the feedback then filters back up the management ladder in some kind of golf-club hosted Chinese whispers, and then the change request (as heard by the last link in the chain) is passed onto the supplier. It will of course have next to nothing in common with the original feedback from the end users to their line manager.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Endless

        A = { people who you consider to have made bad decisions }

        B = { people who were born with learning disabilities, or as you call them 'retards' }

        To conflate A and B weakens your argument, suggests reduced culpability for A and is deeply insulting to B.

        Sorry - you are not the first person to do this, but this was the "straw that broke the camel's back" for me.

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Endless

      The point is that the usual suspects don't actually have the huge numbers of staff sitting around on the off chance that they'll win the contract for which they've bid - they build teams and consortia when they know the money is secure and not before.

      And as we've seen with Carillion, their role as gatekeeper to major projects means that a ruthless primary contractor can pass all the "fronting" risk down to their subcontractors (accept our crap terms for late payment or get no work) and use the up-front payments from the government to prop up the dividends and bonuses.

      What you're actually buying from the mega company may be very little more than its database of desperate suppliers and some contracted project managers.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Endless

        @ Warm Braw: What you're actually buying from the mega company may be very little more than its database of desperate suppliers and some contracted project managers.

        And - much worse IMHO - is that you get a free SPOF thrown in for nothing. Bad enough if it's "simply" a big IT contractor; much, much worse if it's a "multi - activity supplier" such as Carillion was. Just look at all the functions spread around <deity> knows how many subcontractors that the Official Receiver has to keep going "somehow". Official Scapegoat might turn out to be a more accurate description.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        What you're actually buying from the mega company..little more..database of desperate suppliers

        That's about right.

        OT but does anyone see parallels between Carillion and the Royal Bank of Scotland?

        1) Go on massive growth spurt using borrowed (but low interest) money

        2) Get f**ked when interest rates start to climb for the first time in a decade.

        RBS was (to coin a phrase) "The bank for the good times." Will Carrillion be "The outsourcer for the good times"?

    4. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: Endless

      Waiting for the endless commentards going "why does a government billion pound deal always got to the usual three letter companies?"

      Let me guess. It's because a party MP is on the board as an executive director and all his mates have shares?

    5. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Endless

      One of the tricks to keep others from bidding is to write the specifications that emphasize a feature that only a few vendors have in the product. If your product does not have that specific feature your bid can be rejected. It does not matter if your product can do all that is required as you have different way of fulfilling what the feature does. The key to making this trick work is make sure there are a couple of other vendors who have the specific feature but not all.

    6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      FAIL

      @AC you could force the main contractor to use hundreds subcontractors

      Funny you should say that.

      Because if you really knew something about this subject you'd know that's exactly what they do.

      Most of those companies are hollow. What they really bring to the table is

      a) Deep pockets to survive the years long "procurement" marathon mandated because of the it's-a-mult-billion-pund-deal-over-a-decade BS civil service rules.

      b) Lots of ex Ministers and Senior civil servants who know who to talk to get write a great sales pitch that ticks all the right boxes.

      3) Negotiators to stop their "creativity" being hamstrung by any penalty clauses for late delivery, late delivery (but being quite s**t) or compete non delivery.

      4)Negotiators who will ensure that any further changes (including fixes to their failures) are paid by the government.

      5)Programme managers with a small address book of good (but expensive) contractors who know what they are doing about those systems (probably ex direct HMG employees) and who will not tell the employer they are not direct employees of the outsourcer.

      6)Programme managers with a big address book of code monkeys who know Jack s**t but work cheap and fast (and most of whose code is s**t). That include the number to some offshore "palace" of code monkeys in somewhere like India, Pakistan, Russia, Malaysia or Hong Kong.

      7) A PR team that will categorically prove it is not there fault

      That's what these Ahole bring to the table.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Endless - The Economics Are Changing

      But will the government’s addiction to the same group of companies change? I think not. The revolving door is too tempting for government and civil service decision makers. Yet the era of bespoke Solutions provider also having to provide and commission racks of (potentially) thousands of servers is rapidly coming to an end; the economics are too compelling to ignore for both the solution buyer and the solution seller. My employer is already preferring to go for business where we supply the software, but deploy into someone else’s data centre (sometimes known as the cloud). Sure, the government will doubtless raise security concerns, but it’s always the money that ultimately does the talking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Endless - The Economics Are Changing

        "But will the government’s addiction to the same group of companies change?"

        It is changing. Changing to another set of companies.... the main one being MS Azure.

        Loads of government systems are moving to Azure, removing the data centre hosting part from the usual three letter companies.

        Its far cheaper to host with MS than the three letters.

        Of course the applications themselves and the network/desktop are staying where they were.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Partly down to rules set out by government.

    I'm taking part in a big national procurement exercise just now, been trundling along for over a year (to do with new IT systems for NHS).

    Yes it's moving but the bidding process and rules around it mean that smaller companies have little chance of winning even when the product is demonstrably better not only technically but also in function.

    Very frustrating from someone having to then look at software developed by larger companies over years where it's clearly being held together by string and is heavily reliant on **** like JAVA.

    1. smackbean

      Re: Partly down to rules set out by government.

      Just a shame that there are people like you, making decisions about IT, who are just plain ignorant about technology.

      1. smackbean

        Re: Partly down to rules set out by government.

        And others like you clearly - not qualified to make IT decisions. Probably why gov tech has such a high rate of failure.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Partly down to rules set out by government.

        Just a shame that there are people like you, making decisions about IT, who are just plain ignorant about technology.

        Oh dear little troll, know nothing about someone but throw out the insults anyway. Seems like I hit a nerve.. perhaps you're one of those in the room pushing for us to go with the large really **** companies.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Partly down to rules set out by government.

      Go on AC! name names! (or drop hints) you're hiding behind the mask anyway ...

  4. smudge Silver badge
    WTF?

    Towers?

    Are towers the same - but maybe larger - as what we used to call "silos"? They weren't good - large, self-contained teams with walls round them and little communication with the rest of the programme.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Towers?

      Sort of... but the wall becomes the gap between two (often) competing companies rather than two departments in the same company.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Towers?

        I think divvying contracts up by tower to different companies will just be a fad. The savings are real, for sure, but you pay for it by more stuff falling through the cracks and more finger pointing when the shit hits the fan.

  5. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Why outsource

    If you're a small(er) body (public or private sector) I can see the appeal for outsourcing: You don't need to invest in a (lot) of IT staff to cover a whole host of technologies.

    But for the larger bodies, why outsource? It's going to cost an arm and a leg in lawyers fees to negotiate & manage a contract. Surely that could be better spent within the body concerned?

    Oh - I know why: It's so government mandarins can get cushy jobs once they've awarded the contract.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Why outsource

      One of the most efficient public bodies I've worked for was efficient because it had avoided outsourcing. Everything was still in-house and the people their knew how the organisation worked and how to provide software for its needs. There were 7 of us doing the work of about 30 in similar sized outsourced organisations of the same size. And where there were 30 people on the ground there were several floating consultants who each earned more than the 7 of us put together.

      Things got done in the time other organisations needed to organise the meetings to discuss what needed to be done.

      I got made redundant from one organisation that decided it would save money outsourcing, along with 5 others, and when I talked to one of my mates who was still there a couple of years later there were 11 consultants in there getting nothing done.

      For small organisations the inside knowledge of how the organisation works and where the staircase with the hidden server is can be more valuable than some twat with a shiny suit and an MBA.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Why outsource

        For small organisations the inside knowledge of how the organisation works and where the staircase with the hidden server is can be more valuable than some twat with a shiny suit and an MBA

        In my bitter experience, the clue is in the name: CONsultant, CONtractor....

        Either I'm an IT $DEITY, or all the consultants I've come across have been charlatans who only exist to write reports to placate senior management and know naff all about real-world IT. They only know what they read in vendor sales brochures. (Which, as those of us who work at the coal face of IT know, are works of fiction)

        (There may be skillful, honest & hardworking contractors & consultants - I just haven't come across any yet)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why outsource

          That's not the main reason. The main reason is that anything bad that happens can be blamed on the outsourcer, rather than the department / minister / government. The politicians like that.

          Pointy Haired Bosses also love this. All the blame is attritutable to the contractor, and none to them that they can't assign elseware.

          The reason for outsourcing is that the civil service don't do bonuses or performance incentives on the carrot side because that'd play badly in the media, and have exceedingly severe trouble doing disiplinaries or dismissals even when incompetent staff kill people, so they don't have a stick. With neither carrot or stick, productivity is absurdly and heartbreakingly low compared to a workplace that deploys either carrot or stick.

          Hence, instead of improving the HR department and then disposing of incompetent, dangerous and useless staff that way (the unions would simply block it by going on strike) they either:-

          A) Change the inhouse department to a company and give them a yearly contract. When the contract expires, they get commercial competition and discover that they charge several times that or the other bids. Another company gets the job, all of the former inhouse staff collect their P45's as literially nobody would employ them with their level of productivity.

          or;-

          B) outsource, transfer all of the existing staff and then let the outsourcer fire most of them. If the remainder go on strike then people from the rest of the outsourcing business can easily cover for them and get a better service from less people at less cost (at least in theory)

          Regardless, this is why both labour and the conservatives have been using outsourcing- removal via outsourcing is at present the only way to reform or remove ineffective parts of the civil service. If you could grant the civil service the use of carrots and sticks then yes, outsourcing would be totally pointless. However...

        2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: Why outsource

          It may be different in your neck of the woods, but round these parts consultant and contractor are quite specific things. Since I'm doing one or the other quite a lot these days,I'll try and explain the difference.

          A contractor is hired to produce a specific, measurable result. Typically this is a physical thing in exchange for cash, so you might contract Bob's Building Service to build a you a shed for a hundred quid. The contractor should provide the agreed products at an agreed price, along with folloiwing all the applicable laws etc.

          A consultant is someone whom is giving their professional (r expert) opinion, and is obligated to act in the best interests of their client. However, you aren't expected to actually produce anything other than a report. The traditional example is getting advice from a lawyer. You pay them, they tell you their opinion, ideally backed up by the appropriate legal points They might even go as far as to write this ins a letter to the lawyers of the other party.

          In both cases, the person hiring you has NO say about who delivers the product. It's a business to business relationship, there is no formal employment etc. You can't call Bob's Building Supplies and insist that Wendy comes and does the job, since Bob gets up to all sorts of nonsense.

          From my experience of many of those self claimed IT con-artists, most are neither contractors (they don't produce anything tangible) or consultants, as their opinions are obviously not evident.

          In general, if a problem is complicated (like in house IT for a government department) then outsourcing it will only make it more complex and therefore less likely to produce positive outcomes. Make people take ownership, give them some control, and ensure there's some level of feedback.

          A bunch of my conslutery is going and talking to the helldeskers, and translating their thoughts into management speak. Which will still be partially ignored, but since I tend to focus on incremental improvements, a few things will get done.

          In political terms, I'm mainly brought in to help the group who wants to maintain the status quo, rahter than the "grand vision" chaps, of whom I'm naturally suspicious.

          "There may be skillful, honest & hardworking contractors & consultants - I just haven't come across any yet"

          There are. I've even met other ones :)

          The uniting feature is that they turn down the majority of gigs they get offered, since they know it'll be a shitshow.

    2. Jon 37

      Re: Why outsource

      That's not the main reason. The main reason is that anything bad that happens can be blamed on the outsourcer, rather than the department / minister / government. The politicians like that.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Oh - I know why: It's so government mandarins can get cushy jobs.

      You forgot the fear of long term government final salary pensions that cost an arm and a leg to support (courtesy of Gordon Browns desire to acquire some "free money" by scrapping various employer tax reliefs on their contributions).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why outsource

      Why outsource?

      Easy!

      The reason is that not meeting SLA's means that you can withhold payment for the service.

      Some clients spend endless efforts looking for SLA breaches. Those guys basically get their service for free.

      You can't do that internally, your money is spent!

      Internal might do the job a little better, but as long as the fails aren't so hard that business basically stops for very long periods of time, you are saving lots of money by withholding payments.

      One client I had relished the idea that 95% availability (arguably not much different to their previous internal IT functions track record largely due to the shitness of their systems) effectively gave them a free network/server/desktop service.

      (that was a county council, service provided by a large well known household name)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm I just had a thought

    With the companies I've worked for - granted they were smaller SME types - every contract bid for in the public sector required sending financials of our company.

    Even for ones we'd previously won and were actively working on contracts for.

    So it begs the questions how Carillion were apparently allowed to bid for work despite getting to the point they only had £29m in the bank?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm I just had a thought

      Because cash at bank is just only one factor in a company's figures?

      Running hundreds of massive projects could well mean that at any time the cash at bank figure could be wildly different depending on the project phase and billing cycle...

      On the other hand, according to their published accounts:

      https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/CLLN.L/balance-sheet?p=CLLN.L

      June 2017, they had £390,400,000 in cash or cash equivalent, but it looks like they were losing about 41 million a quarter, which would eat this up a bit....

      I guess it was a snowball effect though, as they starting failing credit became impossible to get so cash was used up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmm I just had a thought

        Yep except their share price had tanked and they'd already been talking to banks (and allegedly the gov) for months about support.

        But why do I even ask? It's just business as usual!!

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Coat

          Yep except their share price had tanked (by 70%)

          And their CEO and CFO had both f**ked off, just before they changed the company rules on clawing back performance related bonuses.

          So you think they knew the company was going down the sh***er?

          Who can say?

  7. mix

    "A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: A Cabinet Office spokesperson said"

    PC grammar edit or someone relating something, someone else said?

    Anywho, the problem is that no-one in their right mind would not go to one of the major players due to the whole "no-one got fired for buying IBM" syndrome. There's too much risk at play. I'm not saying it's correct behaviour just expected behaviour.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      "A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: A Cabinet Office spokesperson said"

      Obviously making a business case for outsourcing the Chinese whispers.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've worked on customers who outsource virtually every function to a different organisation and its complete and utter chaos and paralysis. Whenever anything goes wrong nobody takes ownership or responsibility, and instead of fixing the problem people are far more interested in just proving it isnt there fault. There is a lot to be said for having one throat to choke. Granted you can do that by having one prime contractor and forcing them to sub-contract out some functions as well.

  9. TonyJ Silver badge

    Government outsourcing...

    The perils of outsourcing!

    (Perfectly safe for work Dilbert strip)

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: Government outsourcing... The perils of outsourcing!

      Hmm.

      Seems like someone had worked in the security industry....

  10. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    "But that attempt to overhaul £6bn in large IT contracts expiring within the next few years has fallen by the wayside."

    so if X = "£6bn in large IT contracts "

    That figure is less than 2 months National Debt interest payments.

    therefore we pay > 6X per year and see nothing for it , apart from whatevers left to show for previous borrowing and squandering.

    So is it really worth overhauling? let them run , try not to make same mistakes next time (ha!)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Department for Transport and the tower model

    I don't know about the Department for Transport being an "honorable exception". I worked on a programme a few years ago for DVSA, which is a subdepartment of DfT, if that's the right term. They were using the tower model, which meant three small agencies on the same site along with a few internal staff. Two of the agencies were staggeringly incompetent and all of them would blame each other when things went wrong. The software architecture was ludicrous: they wanted to replace a thick client with a website, knowing full well it needed to be used in locations with patchy or nonexistent internet access. No one trusted anyone, and the atmosphere was toxic to the extent that I quit and went off to work further from home for less money. The main priority, and the solution proposed for every issue, was to bring in more people: hardly surprising, as that's how agencies make their money. The parts of the programme that didn't get canned were eventually delivered massively late, over budget and barely functional.

    The annoying thing is that the problems with the tower model were so blindingly obvious to us on the ground, yet the big cheeses kept on throwing good money after bad.

  12. Tom Paine Silver badge

    "scandal"? What scandal?

    Seriously. "Company with crap management screws up and goes bust"? There evidently may have been shenanigans going on among directors and senior management in the last year or two, and obviously their methodology for arriving at bids was broken. So they failed, and went bust. That's capitalism. It's a bag of shit for employees directly affected and for those at third party suppliers who've lost money on invoices that won't now be paid, bit that is life.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CRAPita

    fucking Crapita - get rid of them. money bleeding bastards

  14. Joseph Haig

    NHoS

    Meanwhile, they have gone out of their way to shut down an attempt to provide a viable solution to the mess that is the NHS IT:

    https://nhos.openhealthhub.org/nhsbuntu/2018/01/17/the-final-straw/

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