back to article MPs tear 'naive' British Army a new one over Capita recruitment farce

Angry MPs have labelled the British Army "naive" for signing up to an "abysmal" outsourcing deal with Capita for military recruiting and associated IT systems. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has savaged both the Army and Capita over the disastrous Recruiting Partnership Programme (RPP), which also included the Defence …

  1. Steve K Silver badge

    Spotted the problem?

    Developing DRS – which was intended to underpin the Capita-run outsourcing of Armed Forces recruitment – cost the Army £113m, with Capita spending a further £60 "to bespoke the system to meet the services' recruitment processes and criteria"

    I think I've spotted the problem....!

    1. Fred Dibnah

      Re: Spotted the problem?

      'Bespoke' is not a verb FFS.

      1. Semtex451 Silver badge

        Re: Spotted the problem?

        Personally I'm a fan of the word 'fettle'

      2. STOP_FORTH
        Headmaster

        Re: Spotted the problem?

        Bespokenise?

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Spotted the problem?

          So am I understanding that the Army paid Capita to develop a system which it than retains the rights to market?

          Why isn't the contract written to grant Capita a provisional license to re-distribute ITS bought-and-piad-for code, and to ensure a lifetime service on the results?

          And why isn't the penalty clause that the Capita staff must stay on board until the contract is delivered in full, and that if delivered late the said staff will be considered under recruitment themselves and get sent to boot camp prior to posting to places foreign and dangerous?

          Given the holes in this sorry thing it would have been far more effective to recruit an Army IT team to do the job itself.

        2. KBeee

          Re: Spotted the problem?

          Bodge?

        3. Steevee

          Re: Spotted the problem?

          Be-mis-spoken?

      3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Spotted the problem?

        Verbing weirds nouns.

      4. paulll Bronze badge

        Re: Spotted the problem?

        Bespeak?

    2. kat_bg

      Re: Spotted the problem?

      Yes, quite cheap :)

  2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Easy solution

    This group of angry MPs only need to provide a list of software projects they have managed that were delivered on time, to spec and within budget. The army can then investigate how this was achieved and improve their purchase procedures to match.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Easy solution

      OK, I'll bite. While politicians are notoriously bad at running projects, their SNAFUs tend to get discovered sooner or later. The military on the other hand generally has a freehand once the budget has been allocated and overspend is a given. If necessary the details can be wrapped in the fog of national security and politicians routinely fall into line to defend the flag. After all, lucrative board membershiips up for grabs for those who play along.

      US military spending, for example, is so out of control it's got it's own law, the Augustine Law.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Easy solution

        I had to look up Augustine's Laws because I immediately thought you might mean a well known saying of St. Augustine, but it isn't a law.

        It is however very relevant to military spending.

        video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor

        Roughly "I see and approve of what will make things better, but I actually do what will make things worse."

        1. Ken Shabby

          Re: Easy solution

          Strangely google translate gives "I blushed", if only they did.

        2. cshore

          Re: Easy solution

          Or the wonderful German word "schlimbesserung" which translates as "making something worse while trying to make it better."

  3. fajensen Silver badge
    Boffin

    Our best man ...

    Chris Grayling will be on the job, working ceaselessly to resolve the issue .... no?

    Since no-one involved in these decisions are ever sacked, and no fail-to-deliver company is ever stripped of their unearned profits to face bankruptcy, the incompetence accumulates and it infects other areas, eventually destroying the tissue, killing the host. Pretty much like the Prions behind Mad Cow Disease we have an accumulation of incompetent people and useless businesses, which is causing Mad Leadership Disease!

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Our best man ...

      Ah Chris Grayling. Public service's answer to Dido Harding.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Our best man ...

        I think you'll find that Dido Harding has become public service's answer to Dido Harding.

        Amusingly, Wikipedia describes her as raised on the family pig farm in Dorset.

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Our best man ...

          Oh good, nice to see that she learned how to get all four trotters in the trough at a young age.

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Ah Chris Grayling.

        Allow him to come up with a timetable.

        I do think however that he confuses the words Milestones and Gravestones in whatever Project Management system he uses.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Our best man ...

      CG - how many hundreds of millions of pounds of tax payers money do you have to waste before you become toxic?

      Maybe, it doesn't count against you until it runs into billions.

      Yet the British public keeps voting these people into positions of authority. Time after time.

      :/

      1. CountCadaver

        Re: Our best man ...

        Yet 0.1% of errors in disability payments (and mostly caused by the DWP making mistakes despite being given the correct information) is so terrible that "SOMETHING MUST BE DONE" this isn't sustainable, so lets give the disabled a shoeing and spend multitudes more chasing this so called "fraud" than the mistakes were actually costing the taxpayer, all while telling joe public there must be cuts as we're skint, the existing system is unsustainable and new forms of disability have been "invented" so you'll "refocus it on the most disabled" i.e. cut disability payments and leave vulnerable people without the support they need to stay in work and independent, thus costing the NHS more as they get sicker and need more intensive support, but hey thats the dept of health's budget not the DWPs........

        Then suddenly find BILLIONS of pounds in aid for Africa

        Yet Joe shmo buys the Tory line time after time after time, and all mainly due to their own petty jealousy that "someone is getting something I'm not" (I'm related to someone just like that and who voted Tory to sate their own vindictive bitterness

  4. Franco Silver badge

    Just once I want to see an MP or government department actually carry out their threat to sack one of these companies. Crapita get given contract after contract, consistently underperform and then get more contracts. I've never heard of, yet alone met, anyone who has a good thing to say about the quality of service they provide and that goes for pretty much every one of the outsourcing companies working on UK.gov contracts.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Hmm...

      It's almost like there's some sort of concerted effort to transfer mind-numbing quantities of money from the pockets of taxpayers to the offshore accounts of party donors.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Hmm...

        I know the reasons it never happens, just pisses me off the amount of public hand wringing that the politicians do before running home to check how big their dividends are.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Hmm...

          Hypocrisy is a survival lesson soon learnt.

        2. M.V. Lipvig

          Re: Hmm...

          They go to school for that, you know, to learn how to properly grovel to the public at large.

    2. Mycho Silver badge

      What they need to do is ban key people from roles within companies that bid for these things. Sacking Capita doesn't do much if the owners just wander off and found NotCapita and bid for the same contracts.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd prefer it if the MP or minister was made a backbencher and debarred from any position of power for at least 10 years.

      Then at least they'd have an incentive to succeed.

      Today, they get rewarded for failure. Repeatedly.

      1. CountCadaver

        Better yet expelled from Parliament and barred from ever standing again or having anything to do with politics,then banned from being a company director or even manager for say oh life AND what they've cost the country deducted from their earnings for the rest of their life.

    4. hoola

      Repeat, repeat and repeat.......

      What is just baffling, mind-boggling or seemingly plain obvious to most of us is why the hell are Crapita stil being allowed to tender for contracts. They have failed on so many yet they have not had contracts terminated. We just keep throwing more money at them.

      IT failures, delivery failures and total cockups associated with Crapita are happening so often it is not even news!

      Maybe I have had just missed something it is so obvious.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Reducing time and cost

    Between the time of application and training.

    Might I suggest dumping Crapita, then put together a few teams of NCOs armed with a sock full of sand and a pocket ful of specially minted shillings, give each team a van and a list of Wetherspoons.

    Basic training will sort out the men/women from the boys/girls, if they're not up to combat there is always a need for spud peelers and other support persons.

    1. STOP_FORTH

      Wetherspoons

      The cool kids call 'em "Spoons", daddio. Innit?

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Reducing time and cost

      Send the recruiting teams out after Crapita executives to start with, call it on the job training, & keep at it until everyone at the shithole is now a soldier. Next comes all the executives at FaceBook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Comcast, BT, Vodaphone, TalkTalk, & every other shitty corporation that needs to have its head lopped off. Then comes insurance premium adjusters, used car salesmen, PPI soliciters, lawyers, lobbiests, and the politicians themselves. French street mimes might be next if we're feeling grumpy. Clowns & "phone zombies" (the ones that walk down a street staring at their phone but never where they're bloody going; Pokemon players in particular) amblers, & everyone from Sales&Marketing...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reducing time and cost

        "if we're feeling grumpy"?!?

        You sound positively suicidal.

        Still, with £350M / week available for the NHS from the end of next month, the future of mental health services has never looked so good.

        ;)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reducing time and cost

      The RN tried that ~200 years ago, its caled "Pressganging" and seemingly why the RN is also referred to as "The Andrew" after a particularly zealous press ganging officer.

      Also the catering has been outsourced to.,.......Sodexho (well was in 2010 - renowned for office catering and motorway cafe's), quite how they got a contract for silver service catering is a mystery.....oh wait VT Flagship (aka VosperThorneycroft) now part of Babcock got a juicy contract to run various establishment facilities (catering, grounds maintenance, MT Pool etc etc etc) and not long after the high ups who authorised the contract retired from military service and rumour is they appeared on the Board of VT Flagship.

      VT Flagship subcontracted most of the work elsewhere and lucratively skimmed 10% off the top of what those contractors billed the RN

  6. N2 Silver badge

    Lather, rinse, repeat

    Until Crapita are dumped from bidding.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

      ... the Army and Capita underestimated the complexity of the recruitment challenges facing the Army

      Recruiter "Do you want to join the Army?"

      Recruit "Yes"

      Recruiter "Right, sign here"

      Recruit. "Ok"

      Recruiter "That's 'Ok Sergeant' now, you 'orrible little man"

      How hard can that be?

      1. cbars

        Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

        blah blah, something about informed consent. You only want people in the Army who actually want to be there. Trick someone in and you've got a liability, not a soldier

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

          Not met many squaddies, have you lad? For informed consent, there has to be something to inform.

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

            Something to think about; privates these days are of above average intelligence, and naval ratings always have been.

            It explains a lot if you think about it.

            1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

              Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

              "privates these days are of above average intelligence"

              To be fair to most of the grunts I knew, they had a choice of one of two lives, both of which involved holding a gun. Since one involved having to some school work, they figured that one had the better long term odds.

              After a decade in the military, they have playing dumb down to a fine art. Certainly enough to fool most civvies :D

            2. M.V. Lipvig
              Facepalm

              Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

              "and naval ratings always have been."

              I disagree. You're talking about people who were told, "OK, we want you to volunteer for the Navy. We're going to send you out to sea for 6 months at a time with no women. In the event of a war, the enemy will have just your big, hot metal ship in a cold, cold sea to shoot at, and when they hit it, not if but when, your choices are burn to death in a fire hotter than any crematorium, or sharks. Some of you, we'll be sending a mile underwater with about a ton of weaponized uranium for 6 months at a time..." and said OK, that sounds like a JOLLY good idea! And you think they were the INTELLIGENT ones?

              Former Army, here. Neener neener.

              1. CountCadaver

                Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

                Women have been on ships since 1991, even submarines now have females on board and rumours are the RM are next (which is going down like a sack of depleted uranium. Grown men struggle lifting 18 stone of dry "Fred" (a soldier made of sandbags) so how many females are going to manage a similar lift?

                Least the RN have finally updated their fitness testing to something that actually resembles something military rather than "run a mile and half in x minutes" as one marine said to me, I've never run a mile and half in combat in my life, try and you'll get shot. instead your darting 50 yards at most between cover.

                Then again it only took them.....70 years to realise it wasn't reflective of the fitness required, though it wouldn't have surprised me to hear they were going to bring back club swinging (since they are so big on "tradition")

                Long overdue that they went to either 1 tri service officer training school (so folk from the start learn to work with the other services) or at least train officers in an establishment adjacent to those they will be commanding. Sticking them out in Dartmouth miles from the Fleet and actual military life is just an another "tradition". BRNC costs a fortune to run, anything that outwith public gaze is falling apart (a lot of hidden stairwells that haven't seen paint probably since before WW2) and the syllabus is seemingly untrained since it was a school for sons of gentlemen and distinguished officers. It leads them treating everyone like they are 12. It shouldn't take 8 months to put someone through Initial Officer Training, not when ratings go through Raleigh in 8 weeks.

                I'd have the place shut down and relocated to Raleigh (which is over half empty)

                Former RN Officer.

                1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                  Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

                  Women have been on ships long before 1991. In Nelson's days they did the laundry and worked the powder magazine, and a group of them applied for the Trafalgar medal which was refused basically on the grounds that if they got it the Treasury would run short of metal for all the other women who would qualify for campaign and battle honours.

                  Dropping a very famous name, Nelson's memos to St, Vincent are on record as proof.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

                  Hmm. Sounds like you didn't like EMAs or the run up from Sandquay. Bet you were in Hawke division (grumpy buggers cos they always had to walk an extra 1/2 mile to get anywhere). I spent a year there in 1980. Best time of my life. 2/3 JCs all round!

                  1. CountCadaver

                    Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

                    I was there about 30 years later than you.

                    First term were all billeted down in O Block inc one 32 man room - the Zoo (and it lived up to its name), second term were up in Drake (?) up by the stores anyway

                    Initial Warfare Officer Training spread all over C block, A block, upper floors of O Block

              2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

                Well, given your nick, most of us I think do know how to evaluate statements from Moist von Lipvig.

                However, being sensible for a moment, I had a psychology supervisor at U who had done considerable work for the RN on how to select crew for submarines. The small number of incidents since the 1970s suggests someone was doing something right. Selection for emotional stability and the ability to operate complex equipment reliably for extended periods coincidentally resulted in the selection of a group with high IQs.

                The thing is, being intelligent doesn't make you sensible (note that's the reverse of the situation above). In WW1 and WW2 people of high ability actually wanted to fly fighter planes with a terrible life expectancy so they could shoot down some German who was probably much like them. In your late teens and early 20s you take risks that in hindsight look extremely stupid.

                And, incidentally, I wasn't intending to knock the Army. I was just pointing out that even in the days of sail proper sailors had to be rather skilled. The press gang might pick up a bit of muscle to operate capstans and push the guns backward and forward, but the skills of an actual able seaman were well above average ability. OTOH (and as I noted elsewhere) cannon fodder was a thing right up till the machine gun made it obsolete. The sort of infantryman that "stiffened" conscript levies was of a very different order.

                1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                  Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

                  even in the days of sail proper sailors had to be rather skilled

                  Which is why people picked up by the Press that already had sailing skills tended to get rated much higher than the Landmen.

                  And having a situation where a disgruntled 13-year old middie could make you kiss the gunners' daughter[1] tended to make you learn the Navy Way pretty sharpish.

                  [1] ie - get bent over a gun and beaten solidly with either a rattan cane or weighted rope. Not pleasant. And lets not forget proper officers could assign even worse punishment up to and including the death penalty with no appeal.

          2. hoola

            Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

            Having been at many "squaddie" mess nights the mentality is incredible:

            The sequence of events is usually as follows:

            Go to bar and before hand and get tanked up

            Go to mess, eat and drink more

            Have some games (fights, throwing chairs and tables and generally smash the place up, honking anywhere)

            Go back to quarters to sleep it off

            Small number ordered back into the mess the following morning to clear up the worst of the debris.

            Everyone gets some pay docked to foot the repair bill

            All concerned are happy

            Repeat.......

            1. macjules Silver badge

              Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

              Sounds like a typical night in any officers’ mess.

      2. N2 Silver badge

        Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

        How hard that can be?

        Takes years, many millions and minions,

        With frequent lunches at The Ivy.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Lather, rinse, repeat

        "How hard can that be?"

        Very hard if they turn down willing recruits on medical grounds for having acne (as mentioned in Saturday's Times).

  7. adam payne Silver badge

    the Capita-run outsourcing of Armed Forces recruitment – cost the Army £113m, with Capita spending a further £60

    £60, wow Capita really are cutting costs.

    although the MoD has an "in-perpetuity right" to use the Capita-customised system, it will still have to stump up "an industry-standard maintenance fee".

    I bet that maintenance fee makes the savings pot shrink by a hell of a lot. The MOD will have accounted for that, right?

    The mouthpiece added: "This quarter, Q1, is well on track to being the best in the life of the contract so far in terms of indications of interest."

    Not that hard to do when the system didn't work.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      The MOD will have accounted for that, right?

      Different budget, no my problem..

  8. groMMitt

    Continuing mistyping and syntax mistakes

    Just like so many of the articles in the Reg, the reporter hasn't bothered to proofread their article before submitting it - as I read the articles, I find there are several typos in each, often obviously from the use of a spellchecker, but often from the simple use of the wrong word, as well as missing or poor punctuation. The articles are great - the standards of Use of English shoddy. £60? A glaringly inappropriate figure in this context. Sad, really. And the misuse of Bespoke as a verb? Even sadder.

    1. STOP_FORTH

      Re: Continuing mistyping and syntax mistakes

      'Ere groMMitt,

      Relax mate. Bespoke was inside quotes, so it's a quote. Do you want the Reg to start modifying quotes? Then they wouldn't be quotes, would they?

      Oh, by the way, it should be spelled "Grommitt" or don't you care about inAPPropriATe capitalisaTion?

      They had a job ad on here a few month's back for a subby at the Reg. Why don't you apply?

      In my limited experience they normally reply fairly swiftly if you drop them a line using the corrections button (at the bottom left of every article.)

      1. STOP_FORTH
        FAIL

        Re: Continuing mistyping and syntax mistakes

        I'd like to remove the apostrophe from "month's". Drat!

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: inAPPropriATe capitalisaTion

        I imagine it would be "Grommit" in a world where your handle was "Stop Forth".

        As a trainer once said to a Cobol class I was in before most of you were a twinkle in the postman's eye:

        "In programming there are only a few words which you must spell correctly. After that, it is only important that you mis-spell them consistently. Inability to spell was one reason I got into this game."

        The man was right. The article was full of yptos. He was also wrong. Corrections should be reported using the link. But of course, to write articles predicated on "reader proofing" is to approach journalism the same way Microsoft approaches software releases.

        And we all know how we like that, don't we precious?

        1. STOP_FORTH

          Re: inAPPropriATe capitalisaTion

          Stop Forth? The first language I learned to program in was FORTRAN. (That's how we spelled it in them days.)

          All this lower case and CamelCase rubbish is too hard to read.

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: inAPPropriATe capitalisaTion

            Work in FIELDATA (a real man's encoding scheme) and you can toss half the punctuation (including the underscore) away with the lower case letters.

            I also cut me teeth on FORTRAN, FORTRAN IV in fact running under GEORGE III. There wern't no underscores in it.

            STOP

            END

            FINISH

            1. STOP_FORTH
              Happy

              Re: inAPPropriATe capitalisaTion

              Why were you learning Cobol when everyone else was studying COBOL?

              1. Stevie Silver badge

                Re: COBOL not Cobol.

                Only if you wrote it on a card punch or coding sheet.

                You never actually needed to write it to use it of course. The word doesn't appear in an actual program.

    2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "£60? A glaringly inappropriate figure in this context."

      However, it appears to be an accurate figure for the actual value added.

  9. Spasticus Autisticus

    No need for recruitment campaigns.

    Aged 18 - 25? Not got a job? National Service for you then.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: conscript

      So you have your bunch of conscripts. Do you really want to give them all guns and teach them how to shoot?

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: conscript

        I think you're making the mistake of assuming the guns work, or that the troops have ammunition…

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Army full of Media Studies graduates?

      Lots of degrees that don't have great employment stats would be feeding new recruits into National Service if we went in that direction. Not to say that would be an inherently bad idea (some of the more employable graduates are those who'd had some real world experience e.g. worked a bit prior to degree or taken a placement year). Some versions of Nat Service could be quite beneficial in terms of personal development, but in practice default national service would be difficult to enforce and subject to legal challenges. Might work as a high profile opportunity if suitably targeted etc..

      1. M.V. Lipvig

        Re: Army full of Media Studies graduates?

        Only if required to do so, perhaps. Required as a prerequisite to drawing gummit welfare funds, not so much.

        The only exception to working for welfare should be for people who are actually handicapped, and I don't mean those fools that claim to be handicapped when they aren't. A doctor's note, with spot checks by investigators and risk of prison for doctors found to be pencilwhipping handicap qualifiers, should be sufficient. I have no problem with my tax dollars helping those who are truly broken but I've seen enough folks claiming to be too sick/broken to work out doing hard physical things they want to do to know they aren't all too bad off to hold down a job.

    3. Caver_Dave
      Mushroom

      Not guns, bin bags

      National Service should be a compulsory year of Army style management and living, but doing jobs for the good of the country. "Tidy up that park you scuz messed up when you were civvies", "go and talk to the old people at the community centre", etc. Just a bit better than you get if you are doing Community Service for committing a crime (maybe they should clean the barracks toilets!)

      And I said this when I was the right age to do it!

      1. CountCadaver

        Re: Not guns, bin bags

        So basically the world of "Starship Troopers" - "Service Equals Citizenship"

        (those who only have seen the movie don't realise the book also included the option of working for the govt in administrative roles rather than the movie's military only option.

        Verhoeven really amped up the "Putting on the Reich" vibe also and satirised it heavily. Directors commentary is interesting, commenting on his surprise that people thought it was actively advocating for fascism, rather than lampooning it heavily.

        Heinlein was a bit of an enigma, his politics moved around a lot.

        1. A.P. Veening

          Re: Not guns, bin bags

          "Heinlein was a bit of an enigma, his politics moved around a lot."

          His politics didn't move that much, politics moved around him!

          The thought his politics moved around came from his varying positions on varying subjects. In some cases he was a lifelong libertarian, in others just as lifelong conservative.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Not guns, bin bags

          Heinlein was a bit of an enigma, his politics moved around a lot.

          Early stuff was OK - then he started getting a little bit too interested in girls' first periods and Libertarianism and I kind of lost interest..

    4. CountCadaver

      Military HATED National Service as it cost them a fortune and for not any benefit, you had those there you wouldn't give a potato peeler to and who often disrupted otherwise decent candidates.

      Those who often advocate national service are usually too young to have done it (despite their claim they did) and/or never did a days actually military service in their life.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wasn't the general idea of a conscript army in the days before machine guns that in an actual shooting war most of the conscripts were poor soldiers but easy targets (hence cannon fodder) so the real soldiers who were quick on their feet and made use of cover could get on with the battle while the fodder got shot?

        During D-day on the beach approach my father's crew were engaging targets with the Oerlikons while the Canadians were supposed to be engaging targets with their tanks. But, having no experience of an actual shooting war, some of them were actually reluctant to fire. As my father said, they were "too nice". It was perhaps fortunate that many of the enemy weren't Germans but Eastern European conscripts who didn't much like exposing their positions by firing back.

  10. Simon B-52

    Crapital Punishment?

    I don't know how many public sector projects Capita have taken very large amounts of money for, then failed miserably to deliver anything worth having, but it's a lot.

    And yet they keep on getting those contracts.

    A cynic, of which I am obviously not one, might suggest that there's a huge problem with corruption here. I don't generally favour capital punishment, but it would seem appropriate here for so many reasons.........

    1. Wapiya
      Coat

      Re: Crapital Punishment?

      This is standard for procurement and not limited to the public sector, but much more worse there.

      The politicans want somtheing new and shiny (undiscovered country) and don't trust their servants to deliver. Or after multiple rounds of austerity measures the public sector has no one able to even plan this project.

      So an tender is designed. By design of this process (no one able to coordinate multiple small contracts or even design these contracts) only big companies can bid. Due to "no one knows how to do this right" the tender is ambiguous as hell or impossible to bid on, if you care about the quality of your work.

      Cue entering crapita or on the continent atos/worldline or t-systems. They do have enough lawyers to bid with weasel contracts. One of the usual syspects gets the contract and after that the finding "what we really want" sets in. Add mission creep by politicians after the fact with multiple rounds of addons / changes. Most of them incompatible with each other. The project is now old enough to vote and legally drink. The original tender is long exceeded, but most of this not covered by the original wording of the bid and payed by the hour through the nose (if you are lucky only the nose).

      All this was expected by the bidding company and they do not care a bit (hence the no soul requirement).

      And you cannot even block them from bidding in the next tender "due to inability to deliver", because they delivered on the original contrct or due to mission creep there is no valid target left that would hold in front of a judge.

      I can give you examples for this even though they are from the continent, but the process is universal.

      I think am too tired of the reruns and will get my coat.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    highly sceptical that the Army will achieve its forecast savings as a result of employing Capita,

    but... but... but CAPITA showed us all those impressive slides about forecast savings, like! They looked SO GENUINE!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    brexit

    I wish I could read in the beeb that Capita decided to move their operations to Europe. Alas, the parasites have grown so deep into this economy, nothing's gonna weed them out until they collapse and re-establish themselves as a re-formed parasite :(

    1. Steevee

      Re: brexit

      You do know that the Beeb used Crapita for their recruitment needs at Salford? I know 'cos i went through their wonderous process: 2000 job vacancies in the hands of social science graduates, who think "getting close to the sources of power in your department" (i.e. sucking up to the boss) is more important than, oh I don't know, an actual degree in broadcast engineering.

      And no, I'm not making this up.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: brexit

        in the hands of social science graduates

        Well - the poor luvvies have to work somewhere and there's only so many jobs at fast-food outlets and coffee shops..

  13. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    Crapita should be banned from ever having a contract that is funded by public money. I can't remember one project they have delivered on time, on budget and producing results promised !

  14. doug_bostrom

    This isn't complicated.

    Private enterprise exists to make money, not provide goods or services. The whole point of private enterprise is to divert money from customer intentions. Provision of goods and services are secondary considerations to making money. Optimal operation keeps the customer just barely satisfied (or alive) sufficient to pay bills-- anything more is excessive and excessively harmful to profit. The system will always converge on this outcome.

    Capita has zero fundamental interest in doing whatever it is we want them to do and which they claim to earnestly support -- they didn't volunteer to do our work as a magnanimous gesture. Duh.

    From time to time we have to relearn this, obvious though it is.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Private enterprise exists to make money, not provide goods or services.

      This is my major beef[1] with outsourcing - it takes x number of people to do any particular job and outsourcing promises to do the job with x-10. Which sounds *really* attractive to the beancounters that run most businesses (including public bodies) because most of them only see the world through the perspective of cost and not value.

      However, as we know, those x-10 resource-units tend to be time-shared from a central pool and lack any great degree of site & institutional knowledge - which makes them about as useful as a chocolate teapot for the first 3-6 months until they learn about the client systems and methods. And then (being in the stressful use-them-up-and-throw-them-away culture that seems to pervade most outsource companies) they leave and the whole sorry cycle starts again. And lets not forget that, on each of those people, you need to pay the outsourcers 30% (or, in most cases, 10%) profit margin. Although, most of the contracts I've been exposed to, the outsourcer has underbid and will be hoping to improve profits by charging bogus 'project' costs whenever asked to do anything that diverges from a standard request. And they seem very, very good at finding loopholes..

      This is one of the reasons why we bought a lot of the functions back in-house at the last round. Those X people might cost more on a ledger (after all, real people have extra costs like pensions and annual leave that outsource drones don't have) but they offer far more value because they know the archtitecture, systems and culture of the organisation.

      [1] I have many, many more but if I typed them all out we'd be here until Christmas..

  15. Mayday Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Motivation

    "Although the Army has withheld £26m in contractual payments to Capita since 2012"

    Shouldnt this encourage them to do it propely? I would have thought that making sure being paid was a prime factor in perfoming any work.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Motivation

      Crapita are pretty adept at finding ways to inflate the budget.

      I imagine you'll find extra payments for additional work and other contractual changes are 10x what was withheld.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    best in the life of the contract so far in terms of indications of interest

    "indications of interest" are not and never have been the problem - the problem is getting potential recruits from indicating that they're interested all the way through the pipeline and into a battalion and then keeping them there for at least 4 years. The yield of that process is the only number that really matters.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The idea behind the RPP contract was to free up soldiers from recruiting duties and let them rejoin frontline units."

    The problem is with the Armed Forces. They understand that as people become more educated, informed, the fewer want to join; so, they outsourced recruitment to Capita knowing or suspecting that they wouldn't meet numbers. This is a win for Captia as they get money and a win for the Forces as they can deflect blame for not meeting recruitment targets. It is very much like a large Corporation outsourcing a department. It doesn't matter if the outsourced department is more or less effective or whether it costs more or less. The important thing is that it changes how the accounting can be done and deflects blame for failures away from said corporation and its executives or Admirals and Generals in this case or, I believe, that is the case.

  18. Wiltshire

    Does anyone remember what came before the Crapita system?

    It was the TAFMIS recruitment system, built for the MoD & UK Army by EDS.

    (Training Administration and Financial Management Information System)

    The MoD's administration of that was so lax that the data went "missing" several times.

    e.g. search for : "MoD statement confirms loss of the 1.7million record TAFMIS recruitment database, yet again"

    Some might say the MoD *did* learn from their TAFMIS mistakes. Outsourcing the whole operation to a firm like Crapita meant the MoD should have been at less risk of being blamed for mistakes when it goes TITSUP. What are the odds of being struck by the same kind of lightning twice? Of course, sod's law that choosing Crapita is a completely different kind of mistake, in a super-league of its own. Along with all the other examples of similar TITSUP.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >MoD should have been at less risk of being blamed for mistakes

      In public bodies, this appears to be one of the main drivers behind outsourcing..

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