back to article UK Ministry of Justice knocks down towers, brings IT BACK in-house

The Ministry of Justice is abandoning its experiment of breaking up big IT contracts into a so-called "tower model" and will instead bring tech management back in-house, The Register can reveal. In 2013, the UK government department awarded Lockheed Martin a £125m Service Integration and Management (SIAM) contract to integrate …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "One source said the department is likely to TUPE staff over under the move"

    Good luck. When this reverse TUPE insourcing lark was tried at HMRC as part of the winding down of the Aspire contract all the people worth hiring jumped ship rather than join the civil service or one of the associated GovCos set up to isolate the department from the pension liabilities. There's no getting away from the fact that civil service Ts&Cs and working conditions are crap compared to the private sector.

    1. K Silver badge

      I'm not sure, look at my partners role, it seems pretty sweet - Her core hours are 10am to 3pm, she can work from home 3 days per week, on top of that she earns over £70k. On top of that, they supplied her with a dock and massive curved monitor for home.

      Obviously not the same for everybody.. but still

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hmm - you are wasted here - maybe adverts for staff in various magazines "earn X per hout from home)?

        1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

          re "Hmm - you are wasted here..."

          I guess the Downvoters don't have a sense of humour. (Or should that be humouT? :-P )

      2. HmmmYes Silver badge

        There's a large disconnect between civil service and private sector.

        Progression in the civil service for the few seems to involve doing something perceived as clever but totally useless at Oxbridge. In on the civil service high flyer stream, where they move from one fuck up to another, never actually doing much or taking any accountability.

        The private sector is more brutal -hiring and firing on supply and demand.

        The problem comes when you might need to interchange 20-30 years down the line esp. with anything connected to computers/software.

        Civil service regard software as computers which is admin/secretarial. to them. And offer 20k. Max.

        I think the civil service might be so far apart from the private sector and being able to do anythingcomplex that it might be best to sack everyone and recruit from scratch.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Civil service regard software as computers which is admin/secretarial. to them. And offer 20k. Max."

          The mid level project management types that do SIAM work are actually alright in this regard. They're likely to map into the grade 7/6 range, so could easily be earning in the 50-60k range. Probably a slight knock down from what they'd expect on the open market, but not hugely so.

          The problem with the reverse-TUPE into the civil service lark is you're locked into your terms forevermore. The only way you can ever progress is by switching fully into the CS grading structure. More to the point you're stuck in the ludicrous CS ways of working, where by definition a 6/7 is a team leader, whether or not they want a team to lead.

          It's a culture shock.

          1. HmmmYes Silver badge

            Indeed.

            Broadly, the private sector is skills ability led. The more productive, highly skilled you are, the more you are paid. Obviously supply and demand have a heavy influence - just try getting skilled sw people with 10+ years.

            In my experience, the CS is based purely on years worked for CS and sizeof teams. Theres limited skills or supply and demand.

            Id guess there wasnt an issue when CS and private sector operated by throwing people at problems. But thats not been the case since the early 90s recessiom, which saw the middle management made redundant.

            Now you have the ridiculous issue of contractors doing the core work and the CS building pointless little empires.

  2. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
    Coat

    As the old saying goes, if you are not part of the solution, there is money to be made prolonging the problem.

    1. K Silver badge
      Pint

      lmao... never heard that one, but thats now part of my goto motos!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bugger, I knew I should have applied for that job.

    I'm hopeful I'll be 'in sourced' soon though.

  4. Vanir

    When failure is going to happen

    then failure is not a risk. But the blame falling on you is. So, outsource it.

    One of the laws of management.

  5. steelpillow Silver badge

    Tower of tickboxes

    Tower contracts are bollocks, they are just a layer of tickbox bureaucracy on top of the subcontracts that the prime contractor was going to put out anyway. And like all tickbox bureaucracy, the sharpest player wins and the original purpose is the loser.

    The danger is that bringing it back in-house will reawaken all the old internal demons that the tower was built to keep locked away in its dungeons.

    1. Mark 110

      Re: Tower of tickboxes

      They aren't getting rid of the towers. Its the Service Integration layer across the top of the towers they are bringing back in house. Sensible.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Its the Service Integration layer..they are bringing back in house."

        Which suggests they might start seeing just how much their con-tractor was marking up some items, and (maybe) not full for quite so much con-tractor BS in future. Yes I have taken a shedload of meds to say that.

        Transparency.

        We've heard of it

    2. EarthDog

      Re: Tower of tickboxes

      When I hear "Tower" I immediately think "Silos".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tower of tickboxes

      Towers. Usually subscribed to by management who inhabit ivory ones.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And just as NHS Supply Chain is moving to a tower based solution.

    https://www.supplychain.nhs.uk/ICC

  7. smudge Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Who??

    a three-year £36m applications agreement handed to CJI in 2015.

    That'll be CGI. 4th or 5th largest IT services company in the world, but so low-profile that everyone thinks you're talking about special effects in the movies.

    1. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: Who??

      CGI. 4th or 5th largest IT services company in the world

      The quiet canadians in the room.

    2. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      Re: Who??

      Would That be what used to be CAP Gemini, then CAP Gemini Ernst & Young, then Capgemini. the lovley people who brought about the Aspire contract at HMRC

      1. Death_Ninja

        Re: Who??

        No, not Capgemini.... CGI bought what was the UK business Logica...

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Who??

          Can anyone suggest a suitably trendy name they should use for their next incarnation, a rebrand necessary for appearing to deal with the next bout of self-inflicted reputational damage?

  8. adam payne Silver badge

    The Ministry of Justice is abandoning its experiment of breaking up big IT contracts into a so-called "tower model"

    I though the tower model was [insert word here] up and move up.

  9. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
    Devil

    Outsourcing - does it *ever* really work?

    I'm curious - I mean, I know it allows the beancounters and Management to say they've reduced costs by cutting (directly employed) headcount but has any company actually managed to keep the same level of service as they had before they outsourced?

    I will admit to being biased against Outsourcing since I've been there and got the teeshirt - and the service we were allowed to give after the contract going live was not as good as the one before (a minimum of one more level of paperwork & bureaucratic delays at the very least) but surely someone must have a long-term success story?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Outsourcing - does it *ever* really work?

      The degree of success of outsourcing from a client's perspective is one hundred percent down to how much retained IT you have.

      If you actively manage, oversee and hold the outsourcer's feet to the fire, you can make it work.

      Its finding that balance of how much IT to retain though and fighting against the bean counters who just want rid of everyone in IT.

      Outsourcers know this too - a customer with large retained IT is going to cost you money and give you grief. The reverse is noses in troughs and probably no benefit to the client!

      (I've worked for a large outsourcer for almost 2 decades!)

      1. EarthDog

        Re: Outsourcing - does it *ever* really work?

        "If you actively manage, oversee and hold the outsourcer's feet to the fire, you can make it work."

        If you replace "outsourcer" with employees you are in fact doing nothing different. There is no difference; you cannot walk away from project management, human negotiations, picking the right workers (every time I worked for a body shopI ended up being interviewed by the permanent staff as well as body shop managers), cost controls, etc. There is no free lunch.

  10. Lotaresco

    I fear this will not go well

    MoJ had to outsource because there were no in-house skills suitable for the delivery that they wanted (needed?). The sort of thing they want to do - secure VTC, secure voice, roaming "secure"[1] end user devices, and plug in access to IT services across the entire Criminal Justice estate is bread and butter for commercial organisations and requires a skill mix not present in the Civil Service to implement.

    This is a limited form of "taking back control" and is probably what should have been done from the beginning but it does not address the public sector skills shortages in both technical skills and project management for complex technical programmes. I've moved between commercial and government work quite often over the years and I find that the public sector is always behind in terms of how it manages work. Some of the blame lies at the feet of the CS hierarchical structure, some at the ludicrous policy of preferring arts graduates for all roles, some at the feet of individuals who are unable to stand up to nonsense from either their superiors or systems integrators.

    This will only be sorted when a technical education is recognised as essential for delivery of technical programmes and when programme management are empowered to make decisions and reject stupid ideas.

    [1] FSVO "secure".

  11. firefoxx

    Or possibly

    ... it might be the case that Lockheed \ Leidos did *pretty well* and stood up a working system ready for MoJ to take over. Otherwise why would they spend £££ and take 9 months TUPE-ing staff over?

    :-)

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