back to article UK.gov went ahead with under-planned, under-funded IT upgrade? Sounds about right

An "under-planned and underfunded" IT upgrade delayed national security vetting and is costing about £17m a year in inefficiencies, according to the UK government's spending watchdog. The National Audit Office carried out an investigation into national security vetting after complaints of severe delays to the process, which …

  1. Secta_Protecta

    Same Sh1t Different Day

    When will organisations learn that saving money by cutting corners or purchasing inferior products is just a false economy? For a project to succeed it needs to be run according to requirements rather than available budget, it's like having a shopping list that reads "Buy what you like as long as the total cost is under 50 quid"

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Trollface

      maybe it's Agile

      Everyone knows you don't need requirements with Agile.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Same Sh1t Different Day

      it's like having a shopping list that reads "Buy what you like as long as the total cost is under 50 quid"

      Damn. Rumbled. There goes my whisky-and-ice-cream diet.

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: Same Sh1t Different Day

      Don't be silly. We've seen what happens when big govt systems are built that way. They're an unmitigated catastrophe in both cost and functionality.

      At least this one is working, in the sense that it hasn't completely cut off the function of its departments. Compared with, e.g., the NHS information system, or Universal Credit, or any number of other public sector IT projects - £17 million a year sounds like a bargain.

      1. RegGuy1
        FAIL

        Re: Same Sh1t Different Day

        Bollocks. Universal Credit is not about streamlining and simplifying the benefits system. It is purely about cutting costs. We give money to people who don't have any, and that's bad -- they are the undeserving poor. So we have to give them less (to force them to work).

        On the other hand we give more money, every year (triple lock) to the old twats -- that's because they vote (Tory, mainly).

        It is nothing about having a working system. But it is everything about political ideology.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: Same Sh1t Different Day

          >>>because they vote<<< nailed it in one.

          Politicians (any party) only care about the opinions of people who are actually seen to vote, everyone elses opinion doesn't matter and can be ignored.

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Same Sh1t Different Day

          It is nothing about having a working system. But it is everything about political ideology.

          Which is why they put Irritable Duncan Syndrome in charge of it, the serial liar and failed Quiet Man who was so detached from reality that he thought £57 a week was quite sufficient to live on (he himself living rent-free in a £4m house owned by his father-in-law).

  2. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Flame

    The usual

    Someone makes a decision despite not knowing anything about how it is to be done or if it can be done.

    The important thing is to make a decision when you said you were going to make a decision.

    Universal Credit

    NHSfIT

    CrossRail

    I have known at least one system for HMP establishments which could never work - I know because I had to redesign it for one site.

    1. Mike Lewis

      Re: The usual

      > The important thing is to make a decision when you said you were going to make a decision.

      That reminds me of "battle mode". The early targetting computers in the 1960s would occasionally lock up and not produce any results at all. The solution was to install a switch labelled "battle mode". That switch would produce an output - true, it was the wrong output - but it gave the artillery something to aim at.

    2. jmch Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: The usual

      When considering any projected scheme or fancy electoral proposal it's important to remember that the idea will need to be implemented, and the likelihood of successful implementation by a government department, or multiple government departments working together (the more the worse)

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No comment

    This one has been coming for a very long time. The government has nobody to blame but itself.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Trollface

      What do you mean?

      They have the European Union to blame!

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: What do you mean?

        Exactly, this would have gone fine if it wasn't for that pesky EU, and imagine how smoothly everything will go when we Take Back Control!

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: What do you mean?

          And when our Took Back Control doesn't change a damn thing, we'll just blame the furriners. How dare they go back home and leave us in the lurch when we make life more difficult for them!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What do you mean?

            No, no - we'll follow the official brexit strategy and blame the remainers.

  5. DJV Silver badge
    Facepalm

    SNAFU

    (see title)

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: SNAFU

      It wasn't so bad when compared to other efforts - it's only increases spending by 17% ... this can be sold as " A huge saving because costs would have risen by 30% if the agencies had not been merged." and then they'll do it again to another department. It's all about transferring public money to private pockets under the table.

      1. Karl Vegar

        Re: SNAFU

        30% increase in a public IT project.

        WOW, UK must be good.

        Around here they try to stick by the rule of PI.

        Cost and Time should not be more than 3.14 times the orginal offer. And some times they actually manage to keep within that boundry...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No lessons learnt

    All those failed IT projects they could have learnt from, yet here we are again with another government screw up wasting our money. No doubt those responsible will be rewarded with promotions, bonuses and new contracts for "saving money".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No surprises

    As someone who has to use the awful NSV system, this comes as no surprise. There's only a 50:50 chance that the URL/login details supplied will take the user to the correct application form and when you do get there, after several requests for help, the design could suck army boots down a 1/2" copper tube. Of course there is no helpdesk support for this mess, because that would be far too easy.

    Just restarted the process (again) because I was sent the wrong log in details (again). <sigh>

  8. dnicholas Bronze badge

    The government really should double all estimates for delivery time and budget. Then that can boast they were only a year later and a bit over budget

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Happy

      Then the suppliers can double their quotes

      and everyone is happy!

    2. MatthewSt

      They probably already do double and double again

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      I'm working on a book, it's going to be called "The Mythical Politician Month" and it will detail the problems here.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing unusual

    Just reviewed a plan for our upgrades to Windows 10, senior managers have apparently signed off one which means we'll still be running Windows 7 nine months after it's end of life.

    Fun times, it's apparently being reviewed following us pointing this minor detail out.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nothing unusual

      Well done you on kicking off an interim migration to Windows 8 for part of the estate

  10. DaemonProcess

    fundamental bad idea

    In my poor, semi-informed opinion vetting is the last thing you should try to automate. Paper is so much more secure and there should only be one copy of it. The moment the data goes electronic it's integrity is subject to a quantum of confidence.

    1. Julz

      Re: fundamental bad idea

      "At one point following its introduction, nearly 8,500 files containing personal data were unreadable and 93 per cent of automated checks against the police national computer failed,"

      Sounds like it was quite secure...

      1. Anonymal coward

        Re: fundamental bad idea

        The issue I found with governmental IT (I only ever dealt with one, just one) was that the junior civil servants who had to talk to us suppliers regarded the whole thing as a CV improvement contest. Consider that we were going to supply a football pitch (no, it's an example); the progress meeting went like this:

        1. Approve minutes

        2. Actions taken

        3. <interruption> 'I wasn't happy with the way this was left; we quite clearly stated that the pitch had to be all-weather.' <nope, not in the minutes, but I've been told to go along with this>

        4. <interruption> 'The shape is very limiting. Football is only one of many sports that we want to play there. It should be capable of being a running track as well. The football pitch can go inside.'

        5. <interruption> 'Also, it needs to be pink. It's an all-weather pitch, we need to be able to see the players of whatever sport...'

        After that, the competition to see who could bankrupt us became more intense...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: fundamental bad idea

          Anonymal coward,

          Your main problem was you missed the clue in the name 'Govern*mental* IT'.

          Any attempt to engage with 'Governmental *anything*' means civil servants and untold numbers of 'Managers' that are responsible for individual items in the Requirements, almost down to the level of 1 manager per sentence.

          Getting answers to any question no matter how simple *always* involves someone who is *not* at the meeting.

          Assigning ownership of the task to get that answer, to someone from the client team, requires negotiating skills that could sell "Ice to inuits".

          This is because the number one rule of the civil service is always have questions/new requirements ready BUT own nothing at the end of any meeting.

          The best you will get is a promise to pass your question on to 'the missing manager' though channels.

          Weeks later and quite possibly after your *next* meeting with the client you will receive confirmation that the question has been passed to a dept you have never heard of and will be considered in due course. [The chances of this being the 'correct' dept is somewhat small but you will not find this out yet !!!]

          It will become clear that the requirements you have agreed to are a 'Best Guess' by someone who never attends any meeting *ever* and might even no longer work for the civil service any more. All the people you ever talk to have ideas about what they actually now want, which of course will be possible without any change in the costs to you, or so they think, as their budget has been agreed and set in stone and change at this late date would cause *delays* that cannot *ever* be accepted by the client ..... until sometime later in the project when circumstances mean that some commitment made by the client is not now possible and "would we be able to delay the start of the most crucial work, with 3 other vital co-dependant sub-projects, by 10 weeks but still deliver on the agreed date after all the UAT has been signed off ???".

          Need I go on .... the only organisations that can perform these projects are the 'usual suspects', who have friends/relations/family connections with very senior people who without fail award the contracts regardless of any track record of delivering similar projects to quality, time or to cost and always are more than happy to re-negotiate the contracts *after* missing the 1st deliverable, yet again !!!

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Alien Agilities .... Remote Virtualised AI Facilities with SMARTR Utilities

    Such are surely not unknown to the Cabinet? For there are emails to prove Contact. One would even wish to believe Crown Intelligence Services have been Monitoring and Mentoring Virtual AIdDevelopments.

    That's jolly well certain to be within their Gift and Remit when ACTive on Special Executive Operations. From There You Be Everyone with Everything on Display for Playing In Greater IntelAIgent Games Plays.

    And Brexit is Centre Stage? Crikey. Here is now where Crown Intelligence Services can enter Centre Stage with Anonymous Autonomous AI Lead. At least now you know you will not be alone and disenabled. The Power of the Force is Too Great to Mishandle.

    A little something to remember to never forget .... for it is IT's AIMasterKey that Opens All Doors and Windows ..... to Any Path you can Imagine for to Be Real and Achievable.

    1. Lotaresco Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Alien Agilities .... Remote Virtualised AI Facilities with SMARTR Utilities

      Can someone reboot amanfromMars1 again? It seems to have a corrupted database.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Alien Agilities .... Remote Virtualised AI Facilities with SMARTR Utilities

        No it's el'regs reality-canary - when it makes sense it means the AIs have taken over.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Alien Agilities .... Remote Virtualised AI Facilities with SMARTR Utilities

          No it's el'regs reality-canary - when it makes sense it means the AIs have taken over. .... Yet Another Anonymous coward

          Where is the problem embedded whenever the sense of it is unknown to you? What would you not be understanding in all of the evidence previously sent and so freely advised to be readily available for printing and presenting.

          Question more ..... and find IT a Liberator.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Alien Agilities .... Remote Virtualised AI Facilities with SMARTR Utilities

            Where is the problem embedded whenever the sense of it is unknown to you? What would you not be understanding in all of the evidence previously sent and so freely advised to be readily available for printing and presenting.

            That's a relief ....

  12. fnusnu

    And the commentards on the People's Republic of El Reg

    Want these buffoons to run our railways, water, and electricity!

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: And the commentards on the People's Republic of El Reg

      "And the commentards on the People's Republic of El Reg, Want these buffoons to run our railways, water, and electricity!"

      In all fairness, the railways, water and electricity are pretty fucked as it is, so how much worse could it get?

      Mines the one with the Libtard Socialist Manifesto in the pocket.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: And the commentards on the People's Republic of El Reg

      Currently the railways, water, and electricity are all run by private companies under the cover of public services - yes, I'd like to change that back to the point where we can hold entities responsible.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing....

    Appropriate comment about governments and civil servants.....

    .....but attributed to Tallyrand as a comment about the Bourbon kings of France.

    Ah......kings.....the regal attitudes are still rampant in Whitehall........

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Classic incompetence

    I lost a contract through this, the end client withdrew their offer because it was going to take "too long to complete the process". Shan't be bothering again. Especially after the previous occasion when I completed copious paperwork only for it all to be lost by the client. Just as well there were no original documents submitted. For all I know my paperwork is still circulating - most likely on the Circle line or London Overground.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Classic incompetence [Explaination]

      AC,

      You do realise that as most of these contracts are awarded on the basis that *all* potential tenders are in confidence and you do not get to see *who* else is in the game, therefore a little bit of 'gaming' can be/is done.

      The old trick is to 'Drop' a few of the tenders by rolling out a few excuses ..... such as the 'I have not received your tenders docs !!!' even though you hand delivered them on the correct day.

      Another one is to issue a last minute 'update' to the requirements that completely changes the basis for the work and could be almost seen as the 'high level' description of someones tender response :) ;) ...... that is of course just a coincidence !!!. The document suddenly develops a level of detail that far exceeds the knowledge of the original author(s) of the requirements, again this is pure coincidence !!!???

      These tricks allow the favoured tender to be compared to 'selected' competitors that 'allow' the favorite to win.

      Been there, bought the tee-shirt and eventually used it as rags to polish my shoes. :) ;)

  15. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    sounds Like Millenium Year Application Software Suite all over again

    i thought mergers were suposed to save money

    Whole load of people Putting things into and out off MYASS

  16. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I seem to have heard this before

    Are we in a Groundhog situation?

  17. David Roberts Silver badge
    Trollface

    Know why they were constantly under staffed?

    They couldn't get the job applicants vetted.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Know why they were constantly under staffed?

      It is not job applicants they need to feed and seed whenever new job creators are needed for investors.

      Who/What is Charged to Provide that Constant Supply of Power and Energy? ESPecial IntelAIgents Services? Remote Alien AIdVenturers? UK Joint Forces Command Groupies? AIMODified Gurus?

      Or is that Present Service Currently Missing in Inaction and Unavailable without a Generous Contract to Perform as Required ...... Practically Immaculate and Virtually Perfect? Such services are bought in are they not, whenever developments in house are discovered to be fundamentally wanting and easily outperformed by SMARTR Competition and Almighty Opposition.

      1. Mark Exclamation

        Re: Know why they were constantly under staffed?

        I want a random-word-generator just like yours!

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Know why they were constantly under staffed?

          I want a random-word-generator just like yours! ... Mark Exclamation

          Random-word-generator, ME? Oh, please. In your dreams maybe. There aint nothing random about extremely specific communications which be highly targeting.

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    Looksl like all the usual suspects for IT failure are on display here.

    Again.

  19. Mongo

    The good news: terrorists didn't exploit the opportunity to foment chaos

    The bad news: they brainstormed for a while but concluded that UK.gov was fomenting just fine as it was

    (the even worse news: brainstorming is still a thing)

  20. steviebuk Silver badge

    I predict...

    ...."Lessons have been learnt".....then a year later same shit will happen again showing clearly no fucking lesson has been learnt.

  21. N2 Silver badge

    Diddnt they do well?

    3/13 essential functions working?

    No doubt they'll find some metric to congratulate themselves and award bonuses.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the big deal? It's only tax payer's money.

    Yes Minister.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: What's the big deal? It's only tax payer's money.

      What's the big deal? It's only tax payer's money. .... AC

      It's not even that, AC, but that inconvenient secret has to be kept schtum for the global charade to have any chance of working its fake take magic.

      The problem though is that genie has escaped the bottle/lamp and a more accurate and extremely potent realisation of the fraud that was perpetrated for the command and control of a not chosen few has dawned and busily creates titanic waves for the obliteration of worthy targets with worthless souls?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bah

    The loooooooong delay cost me one contract and one permanent job. The 14-month vetting was far too long and the client had just about wrapped the job up by the time the clearance was nearing completion, so job offer was withdrawn. They made do with less testing. Guess how that worked out....

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That would help explain my fifteen months wait to then be denied the clearance!

    Better off working on non-government projects.

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