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Blue Blog

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And finally a comment here:- The Blue Blog.

Comment by Adam Saltiel on March 15, 2010 at 1:41 am

I have read the full document, but not the referenced reports.
The big issue is how to reduce the big contractors hold on the budget.
I left my last job because I couldn't put up with the wastage intrinsic to our activities. IT can be very complex, this is true, but, all too often, the complexity is used as a cover for very expensive, very poor solutions. I am convinced that the real value of what I was working on was between 1/10 – 1/20th of what was being charged, hundreds of thousands, not tens of millions. This is a scandal. A scandal countenanced by HMRC, who are the client! I think it very likely that these savings are there to be made across the spectrum of government IT spend, amounting to billions that could be reclaimed every year. But, unfortunately, this is where it gets very complex. HMRC had a team of about eight, not all full time to this, overseeing a spend of >£35mil per annum. This is not feasible.
The complexity in this is
1. that Whitehall was stripped down under Thatcher,
2. it is likely to be stripped down again and
3. when this happens talent is lost. (And impropriety can creep in, I saw some evidence of this, too.) The first step must be to reinstate a sense of rectitude and public service. But to do that the Civil Service must be backed up, so that they can disengage from the big suppliers by wresting back control of those contracts.
There is much more that must be done in this area, this would be the tone that must be set.
Open source and a skunk works may help, but are not enough in and of themselves. Openness about contractual arrangements – if that is what is meant – could also help.
I expect there is a list of helpful items.
One key point is that there does not seem to be independent auditing. At the moment as the auditors are just arms of the IT suppliers. That successive governments have allowed this situation to arise is also a disgrace.
Where I was working recently was central to government policy, and I saw two things. That KPIs were redefined, in other words delivery was not made, in fact could not be made because of fundamental shortcomings in execution. That these failures in execution were blamed on all other parties apart from this supplier.
I also learnt, for example, that to change a URL, a simple operation of no more than a days work, would cost £100,000 when requested of a 'cooperating' other supplier.
That difficulties and failures I could see in our own system were not to be fixed as that was 'out of scope'.
And that the shoddy work I was involved with, that used out of date open source software that was actually costing money and resources just to keep in place, actually had no means by which it could be migrated thus entirely militating against any possible benefit.
I go into further detail about these issues and the difficulty in resolving them on my blog.

At least I have the chance to correct the howling spelling mistake here.