Sunday, 10 August 2014

IT Special 2

Word 2002, IE 6, Windows XP (which Microsoft have recently ceased providing support for). What could possibly go wrong?

I work in IT for 'probation' and quite honestly can say that the IT systems have got worse not better. A good IT system should be intuitive and not require much training - how many of you have had training on how to use ebay, Facebook or your internet bank?

As an IT literate person - for heavens sake I make a living out of helping others with IT as an IT trainer and in a support role, even I struggle with OASysR and especially nDelius - they are just not logical! I remember seeing nDelius in action in Manchester about five or six years ago just after CNOMIS collapsed and thinking it was great. The product the we have today though is nothing like it! Antiquated, difficult, and laborious. 

I remember going away from the train the trainer event utterly disappointed that I had to sell this crap product to staff as the next best thing. Yes Annette is ex-trust and is good with the business stuff, but seriously - would you actually think this was fit for purpose Annette and co if you actually had to use it day to day?

So tomorrow I have to support the fallout of the migration weekend for NPS staff. ICT systems are there to support purposeful action - yes I have a post grad qualification in ICT, and the changes imposed on staff do not sit with this fundamental purpose in relation to what ICT is there to do. It is supposed to support not hinder!

Oh I forgot to mention that the only way I once could find someone on nDelius was to Google them to find their DOB from a local newspaper then input that into nDelius which generated a match - perhaps a top tip for OMs who can't find their cases. Train crash waiting to happen.

Thanks, that was useful, having read what you have said it made me feel that I am not incompetent and it is the system that's fucking unworkable. It would be useful if we could get more truthful information from IT staff, at least you know what you are talking about and can highlight all the problems with the system. And thanks for the tip really professional having to use newspapers to find our clients, NOMs you really have got to take note this is beyond a joke.

I lost a whole report the other week. Told it was gone forever and had to do it again. Saved it and uploaded it to Delirious. Next day, gone!

In our Contract Package Area this week: 

Them: Here's a memory stick for you to download a very badly written set of PowerPoint slides to stand alone laptops to deliver group inductions to new clients. 
Us: Great! Can we keep it?
Them: No, the memory stick is very expensive and you have to share it with the neighbouring county because we can only afford four. Please upload it as quickly as you can and then post it to the next county. This is real.

Do you know that under 18s can not be entered onto delius? So if within a month of their 18th birthday when they come to adult probation not YOS, newly sentenced offenders have to be held unprocessed until they reach 18 and are entered onto the system. They are not allocated in that time because the IT will not allow them to be. Yup that is true - perhaps the single most vulnerable group of offenders, young people, are being held unprocessed. Go on check it is scandalous...Could it be another mistake by NOMS 'cos they don't understand probation...??

London still does. Serco have still got permission to supervise 16 and 17 year olds so we still do in London.

A number of colleagues in my team lost hours of work last week, and when they spoke to the Service Help Desk, they were supremely fobbed off with comments such as 'did you save as'. Well, yes, we've all cottoned onto the fact that you cannot use shortcuts to save in this nightmare of a system and that we need to 'save as' every 2 minutes, and so their comments were truly pitiful...I felt for staff, some who had been working on SDR's for hours.

It's not good enough to send out such platitudes and when will all these folk sending us such messages recall that we are not all IT Geeks and the language used is unhelpful, they may as well be communicating by hieroglyphics as far as I am concerned...but I can smell a rat, when the blame is pushed back on those using the bloody system, which is not fit for purpose.

Our IT helpdesk had the temerity earlier this week to question a colleague as to whether she locked her computer every time she left her desk when halfway through reports etc. Said report had vanished in the process of being uploaded to delius. So is the preferred explanation now, that we must be deliberately sabotaging our colleague's work by messing on their work station every time they nip to the loo?

Funny how it's only IT systems that are allowed "unexpected performance issues"... don't see the same courtesy extended to human staff!

I loved the comment "performance levels remain below those previously experienced" - at least they're not trying to claim that the systems were previously anything other than shite, but now they've sunk to the level of complete shite!


  1. I'm finding all sorts of snippets in all sorts of places:

    "2013 - a Steria landmark
    Signature of the SSCL contract estimated at more than €1.2 billion euros over 10 years to consolidate the back-office functions of four Departments of the British government.

    Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, commented, "Steria Limited has set out a compelling vision for how they will work with us to help government deliver back office functions more efficiently and, ultimately, more competitively. A key part of the Civil Service Reform plan is making government more unified, and enabling civil servants to focus on delivering exceptional public services."

    Hmmm... Francis Maude again. A relic from the days of milk-snatcher.

    1. Some background from Mr Maude's own website:

      "Francis was born in 1953. He was educated at Abingdon School, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and the College of Law. He’s married with five children and lives at Dial Post, a few hundred yards from the Horsham constituency boundary.

      Francis practised at the criminal bar from 1977-85 and was a councillor for the City of Westminster from 1978-84. He was elected as Member of Parliament for North Warwickshire in 1983 until 1992, during which time he was a PPS (1984-85), Government Whip (1985-87); Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Corporate and Consumer Affairs at the Department of Trade and Industry (1987-89), Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1989-90), and Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1990-92).

      He lost his seat at the 1992 election and in June that year was made a Privy Counsellor.

      Francis was appointed a non-executive Director of ASDA Group Plc in July 1992. He was a Director of Salomon Brothers from 1992-93, a Managing Director of Morgan Stanley & Co Ltd 1993-97. Francis was Chairman of the Government's Deregulation Task Force from 1994-97."

    2. And then I found this by journalist David Henke:

      "David Cameron and George Osborne have been boasting how many new jobs their new economic recovery has created.

      What they haven’t told you is that their Cabinet colleagues are actively working to strip Britain of existing jobs and replace them with new cheap skate jobs overseas, including some countries which have high risks of riots and terrorist attacks. And further the new jobs will mean the transfer of personal data on staff, possibly police and criminal records and the transfer of patient details from GP to GP to a foreign country.

      I have written about this in Tribune magazine this weekend. But the two ministers are being very crafty – they are leaving it to a private company to sack the former civil servants and transfer your records and appointing a man who can hold both a Whitehall job and a private sector post at the same time to hand the companies the power to do it.

      Peter Swann: the man enabling Steria to outsource jobs to his own company’s high risk terrorist destination
      The man is Peter Swann – or Peter S as he likes to hide under his Linked In entry unless you know him well. His entry shows he is currently Director of Crown Oversight at the Cabinet Office under Francis Maude and his job description according to his own Linked In Entry is “transforming the delivery of Civil Service back office functions to over 500,000 staff across the UK and in all Government Departments.”
      His other simultaneous job is executive director of Aon Risk Solutions which in his words is famous for ” relocating corporate Head Office functions and aligning this strategy to Aon’s captive offshore arrangement and existing outsourcing contractual arrangements.”

      To put it simply he is an outsourcing and off shore fanatic whose company has had a 43 per cent rise in dividends this year. Incidently his firm provides a Terrorist Tracking Tool and up to date world guide on the dangers of strikes, riots and terrorist attacks in dodgy foreign countries.

      So it should be no surprise that within a year a French firm, Steria, have now taken over all the back room jobs for the Department of Work and Pensions, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency and is now looking at bidding for the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. Again the move is subtle, Whitehall has created a new UK company to do it, 75 per cent owned by the French. It came one year after the Department of Health ensured that Steria also took a majority holding in a NHS data company providing the ” invisible information” through NHS Shared Business Services, including patient information to GPs and clinical recall services.

      And now Steria is arranging that jobs currently in Newport, Cardiff, Sheffield and Leeds are destined to be replaced by ones abroad and staff in Newcastle, Blackpool,Peterborough and York are facing the sack. An analysis of Steria’s accounts – which they are required to disclose under EU law- reveals that they make the most money out of their British operations – but their biggest off shore operation is in India with lesser ones in Morocco and Poland. They also derive 39 per cent of their income from the public sector,

      So what will be Sheffield’s loss could well be Pune and Chennai in India’s gain. And here’s the irony Peter Swann’s company, Aon, rates India as a high risk country for riots, commotion and terrorism, while Sheffield is low risk. It is also amazing that to save money our justice secretary, Chris Grayling, and Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, are quite happy for Steria to do what they like with our personal data. I bet they don’t take such risks with their own personal security. Perhaps both of them should be removed to exile in Pune.

    3. Like Grayling, Maude hasn't been shoddy when it comes to looking after himself. Again from David Hencke:

      "Not only can Mr Maude look forward to a platinum pension from investment bankers, Morgan Stanley, (see previous blog) but he is also making money as a landlord in Kennington, south London by letting out rooms available only to young ambitious Tories.

      Just off the Kennington Road where he once lived lies Denny Crescent, a beautiful and leafy enclave in a somewhat grotty area.

      Here Mr Maude purchased a home for £240,000 cash in 1999. The three bedroomed property, one of a terrace, has more than doubled in value since then – a next door home was recently sold for £485,000 – and boasts two special features.

      One is a restricted covenant signed between Mr Maude and as the title-deed shows ” His Royal Highness Charles Philip Arthur George Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Rothesay,Earl of Chester, Carrick,Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Great Steward of Scotland.” Originally it was owned by the Duchy of Cornwall which has imposed restrictions.

      Mr Maude’s terraced home is Grade II listed. Lambeth Council’s description describes the terrace as built in “1913 by J D Coleridge for Duchy of Cornwall Estate. Crescent of 2-storey red brick cottages in Dutch style. Dark tiled roofs with dividing chimney walls and moulded wood eaves cornice. Returned crowstepped gables, with Roman cement coping, at ends and flanking centre. First floor brick band. Sash windows with glazing bars in moulded wood architraves. Half glazed doors in plain wood frames have low oblong fanlight. Handsome rainwater heads with Prince of Wales’ feathers and motto. “

      The second is membership for £125 a year and use of a private garden for his tenants, Denny Garden Ltd, opposite his home.


      This property featured in the Daily Telegraph’s expenses scandal. It was the family’s London home – the electoral register shows Francis, Christina, and two of his daughters Julia and Cecily, lived there until 2006.

      Then Mr Maude and his family swapped homes to a flat in nearby Imperial Court taking out a £345,000 mortgage and began claiming substantial Parliamentary expenses on the flat. They charged the taxpayer £387.50 for moving the furniture from Denny Crescent there.

      What the title deeds reveal is that Mr Maude also took out another mortgage with the HSBC Private Bank on Denny Crescent raising another tranche of cash.

      Mr Maude’s “tax efficiency” as they call it is clever – at the time he claimed interest on one mortgage from the taxpayer and offset new rental income from Tory activists in his old home by loading all the mortgage interest costs and repairs against the rental charge. That way he pays little tax. And he has released hundreds of thousands of pounds of capital to spend himself. No wonder he is a highly paid former investment banker."

    4. Apologies for straying off the IT thread - the link to Maude's involvement impassioned me and I couldn't break free of its grip.

      It is nevertheless extremely worrying that most (if not all) of HMG's key IT contracts central to the working of the UK government are (a) run by an overseas conglomerate; (b) being signed off by one man and his Tory cronies; and (c) leading to a cull of the public sector. The signatories and architects were not even voted into office - they arrived via the back door, having hoodwinked the risible, gullible, wet LibDems into "coalition".

    5. Note that on his own website he cites Dial Post near Horsham as his home - apparently a large-ish property with land also purchased for cash, and estimated being worth approx £1M+. So why fleece the public purse for mortgage payments on a London flat when you own at least two properties outright? Presumably there'll be some kind of 'austerity' argument in there somewhere??

  2. Fat pigs with their noses in the trough. Disgusting parasites.

  3. And we are letting them shaft us.Grrrr

  4. Can we remind ourselves of the costs of this shyte IT - contracts the coalition insists were signed & fixed by the outgoing Labour government. I don't care who signed them, they're scandalous, but I'm sceptical of that defence. Wherever Grayling has been, there seems to be a trail of IT catastrophe and write-offs. This from the Indie in June:

    "Private IT companies are being paid almost £5bn a year by the taxpayer to run Government computer networks, startling new figures reveal today.

    An analysis of contracts across Whitehall shows that the American computer giant Hewlett-Packard alone was paid £140m a month last year by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Ministry of Justice for computer services.

    Another IT firm, Capgemini, holds contracts worth £1bn a year to supply and maintain computers across central and local government.

    In total the Government paid £10bn to its top 20 contractors in 2013. Almost half of this was spent on IT.

    The sums paid out to major international IT firms dwarf the £2.2bn paid to ‘outsourcing’ companies like Serco and G4S, who have been subjected to the most ferocious public criticism over their state contracts.

    The figures were uncovered by the Whitehall think-tank, the Institute for Government, and Spend Network, which aggregates raw Whitehall spending data to show which private companies are the biggest recipients of taxpayer largesse.

    Researchers studied 38 million transactions with over 180,000 suppliers. The project required over 16,000 hours of analysis over two years.

    It reveals that out of the top 20 private sector contractors in Whitehall, six are IT firms who between them receive around £3bn a year from central government and another £1bn a year from local councils.

    Among the biggest departmental spenders on IT were HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), DWP and the Ministry of Defence. HMRC for example spent 86 per cent of its contracting budget with Capgemini.

    Overall there are at least eight IT suppliers receiving more than £100m every year from a single government department, and at least 15 suppliers receiving more than £100m in annual revenues from multiple Government departments.

    The largest contractor – the American IT giant Hewlett-Packard – has contracts worth £1.7bn a year.

    The firm was one of the contractors given money by the DWP to develop its so far ill-fated Universal Credit project. £34m of that has so far been written-off."