[Gllug] Government IT projects and wasted money

Alistair Mann gllug at lgeezer.net
Fri Jun 17 14:38:07 UTC 2011

James Courtier-Dutton wrote:
>  On 17 June 2011 10:30, Jon Fautley <jon.fautley at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On 17 Jun 2011, at 09:49, Bruce Richardson wrote:
> >
> >> On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 08:46:46AM +0100, Jon Fautley wrote:
> >>> That's one of the big arguments for the Government outsourcing
> >>> as much as possible to the private sector.
> >>>
> >>> The grand idea is that by passing the work to the private
> >>> sector, existing work can be reused
> >> Read Alistair's reply to find out why that will not happen,
> >> whether or not the work is done in house.
> > Agreed - I wasn't suggesting the system works ;)
> >
> >>> and the government can leverage the skills and resources not
> >>> typically available to them for the reasons you listed above.
> >> But look how much government work is already put out to tender,
> >> and how much of the old civil service was privatised in the last
> >> 30 years (e.g. Qinetic).  Ask yourself why private contractors
> >> should want to make the process more efficient.  Duplication of
> >> work = duplication of fees.
> > Again, correct. It ties in with the fact that as you've mentioned,
> > the government won't hold private contractors to account.
> >
> > For clarification, I wasn't suggesting that outsourcing was a fix
> > for the problem, or even a particularly good idea for a lot of
> > government projects - just that the issues raised in the OPs mail
> > aren't really perceived as a problem because "the government is
> > already doing all it can by outsourcing". Fixing the problem for
> > good would require a major culture shift in government IT, and that
> > simply isn't likely to happen :(
> >
>  Maybe I did not make myself clear.

<snip excellent example>

>  Why not just use the same thin client OS for all three projects?

Because that's not a desirable choice when viewed in a context where 
accountability for decisions is more important than the quality of that 

Hypothetical question: HMG moves all staff to os/2. 10 years later they 
discover a newly belligerent Chinese have left potentially malicious 
payloads all through some updates. How many civil servants know Windows, 
Linux, Sun Ray? How many can be retrained (and by whom?) before the  
Chinese learn that we know and do something about it?  Now, how 
desirable was it to use the same thin client everywhere?

Alistair Mann
Gllug mailing list  -  Gllug at gllug.org.uk

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