Tag Archives: Whitehall

Want a cake? Buy a bakery!

There was a man (not me) who loved cakes so much (definitely me) that he decided to buy a bakery (not on my income), so he spend £1,475,000 and now he has a cake every day until he dies, and that was the happy ending, or was it?

Consider that at the Cake Store, an outlandishly super cake (birthdays) from £45 onwards (up to £850) which will give you colour choice for inscription, 4 levels of cake (the 4th being a Rubik cube cake), choice of filling and selections of candles and sparklers. So it does not get any better than that. Yet we all agree that the most expensive cake is not a daily choice, anything below that tends to be around £100, so a fair cake and there plenty of cakes are 16″ and a mere £69. So at that stage we see that the man paid upfront for 19,666 cakes, implying that he will have a daily cake for 53 years; and that is when we ignore the interest he could have gotten on the £1,475,000 which in an optimum stage is interest that pays for 983 daily cakes a year, we call that a bad choice when the goal is to have cake every day. Now when it is about government policy it is not that simple.

And this gets us to the actual story, the fact that the Guardian gives us: ‘Government spends almost £100m on Brexit consultants‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/may/29/government-spends-almost-100m-brexit-consultants), I get that consultant might be needed to some degree, but Brexit is something new, so how would they know? Yes, I very much understand that one of Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), or Ernst & Young was needed, but all three? Even if that was the case, for example manpower, the issue is not merely the £100 million; it is the stage of what knowledge did these civil servants not have?

Before we go bashing civil servants left, right and centre, we need to acknowledge that you want consultancy to some degree on international tax issues, on international legislation, yet is that knowledge not available within the government? We apparently have Law lords, we apparently have treasury and tax experts and the fact that they came up short by £100 million in knowledge is a much larger issue than I am happy about.

The fact that the end of this is not near, a premise we see with: “Marked “official sensitive”, the investigation warns Whitehall spending on Brexit consultancy work could hit £240m by 2020, as officials scramble to plan for departure from the EU” should be a larger concern. Then I notice a name which I have stumbled upon. With the mention of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), I go back to ‘The Repetitive Misrepresentation‘, A May 2016 story (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/05/28/the-repetitive-misrepresentation/) where I stated: “The quote in the Business Insider gives you “I got the analyst who wrote one of the reports on the phone and asked how he got his projections. He must have been about 24. He said, literally, I sh*t you not, “well, my report was due and I didn’t have much time. My boss told me to look at the growth rate average over the past 3 years an increase it by 2% because mobile penetration is increasing.” There you go. As scientific as that“, this was at the core of the issue I had with PwC earlier. The final Gem the Business Insider offered was “They took the data from the analysts. So did the super bright consultants at McKinsey, Bain and BCG. We all took that data as the basis for our reports. Then the data got amplified. The bankers and consultants weren’t paid to do too much primary research. So they took 3 reports, read them, put them into their own spreadsheet, made fancier graphs, had professional PowerPoint departments make killer pages and then at the bottom of the graph they typed, “Research Company Data and Consulting Company Analysis” (fill in brand names) or some derivative. But you couldn’t just publish exactly what Gartner Group had said so these reports ended up slightly amplified in message; even more so with journalists. I’m not picking on them. They were as hoodwinked as everybody was. They got the data feed either from the research company or from the investment bank“. This all from an article in The Business Insider from February 18th 2010! (Yes, more than 6 years ago).” I am not stating that BCG did anything wrong, illegal or immoral, I merely wonder how they got their numbers, Brexit is an unseen event and there are no scenarios that fit the bill, so how were their results gotten (or is that begotten?); these are questions that reside with Bain & Company, as well as the BCG. PwC is not out of that firing line, it is for the most only Deloitte who gets a pass (based on previous work), as well as some of the people I know (from) there.

If there is one part I get then it is the entire Defra mess (mess still an optional word). The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has to deal with all kinds of legal and policy issues that have never been transparent, I would be surprised if there is not a whole range of other issues floating up from there in regards to food matters from all over Europe (France being an obvious first). An example that was seen last year when those reading Wine magazines were introduced to: “It’s made from outlawed jacquez and herbemont grapes, he explains, and is produced by a coop of rebellious vignerons in the Ardéche region of southern France.” Wine that is banned by the EU, so that is one part that Defra might not have been prepared for at present and that is merely a top line result I looked at, when we start looking at the Romanian Equine Beef Burgers the matter becomes truly adventurous. None of it is the fault of Defra mind you, merely the stage in which they find themselves at.

That also raises the issue seen with: “Whitehall report criticises departments for lack of transparency“, at that point, what are the chances that the Border Delivery Group with £10.2m and Defra with £8m have been doubling up on data and reports? More important, if they are from different sources, the data will not match and cannot be compared, or better stated, until the questions and data are not rigorously inspected, there will never be a way to tall on a few levels how valid and optionally how replicated the issues are. There is clear overlap between the two, yet the lack of transparency implies that they are not aware of each other’s work until the final report was handed to all the players.

In addition when I see: the DHSC employed Deloitte for “management support … in ensuring the supply of medical devices in case the UK leaves the EU without a deal”“, questions are shaped in my mind. I get it; there are questions, very valid questions. Yet in all this, Philips Healthcare has 6 locations in the UK, the same for Siemens Healthineers UK. So suddenly they would not be able to provide? They had their tax breaks for decades; as such they are responsible for delivery. It is time to look at these places and see just what tax breaks they got and hold them accountable (to some degree). I am merely mentioning two elements, there are many more where they had the deductibles and now they would walk away? Did the Department of Health and Social Care ever look at that part of the equation? Because if these people ‘walk away’ we can undo these tax breaks immediately, for the next decade or two.

It could be my version of ‘the sun also rises’.

It all comes to blows when we see: “But the report says it has taken an average of 161 days for basic details of Brexit consultancy contracts to be published, compared with 83 days for all consultancy contracts“, the fact that details are withheld for almost 6 months, beckons the question, was that before or after the contract was signed? In addition to this, when we look at “In February, analysis found government and public sector bodies had awarded contracts worth £107m for “professional services” in relation to Brexit planning. Tussell, a private firm that analyses public contracts, said the figure included 28 consultancy contracts worth nearly £92m.” gives me the questions on how much Tussel costs to check all this and are these contracts checked for doubling up, or are the merely checked for validity, hours versus billed, as well as how the contract was set up and what was required to be delivered? Merely the basic stuff and as such, as these contracts are compared, will I find a doubling of data as similar questions are to be answered?

Even as I partially agree with the government spokesperson giving us: “It is often more cost-efficient to draw upon the advice of external specialists for short-term projects requiring specialist skills. These include EU exit priorities such as ensuring the uninterrupted supply of medical products and food to the UK.” I do end up with questions on the arrangement of short term contracts and the fact that the treasury coffer is now out of £100 million. The fact that we see ‘such as’ is also a problem, the people were so over the moon on being a member of the EU, the fact that the government never looked at contingency issues within any government since the UK became a member of the EU is also a failure on several levels, especially when we consider the fact that this looks like an impairment of national security (or is that on levels of national security) whilst we see unproven Huawei accusation left, right and centre, an issue that does matter as you are about to find out.

The Washington Post gave us two days ago (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/05/28/its-middle-night-do-you-know-who-your-iphone-is-talking) ‘It’s the middle of the night. Do you know who your iPhone is talking to?‘ with the added: “Our privacy experiment showed 5,400 hidden app trackers guzzled our data — in a single week“. It relates in a simple way, we accuse Huawei whilst apps are according to the Washington Post: “On a recent Monday night, a dozen marketing companies, research firms and other personal data guzzlers got reports from my iPhone. At 11:43 p.m., a company called Amplitude learned my phone number, email and exact location. At 3:58 a.m., another called Appboy got a digital fingerprint of my phone. At 6:25 a.m., a tracker called Demdex received a way to identify my phone and sent back a list of other trackers to pair up with. And all night long, there was some startling behavior by a household name: Yelp. It was receiving a message that included my IP address -— once every five minutes.

It seems that there is a flaw, not merely in transparency and regarding the consultancy groups, there is a flaw in the way we think, the government is set to a stage, what would we have to do, whilst the tax breaks have been ignored to the stage where companies have a responsibility to deliver, which of these reports takes a look at that part and when we see that Apple did not do enough, when we are told that the user should not have installed a certain app, the fact that the app should not have been allowed in the apple store (or android store) is equally a setting to look at, the lack of transparency implies that this was not done, not once.

So when we divert (for a moment) to: “According to privacy firm Disconnect, which helped test my iPhone, those unwanted trackers would have spewed out 1.5 gigabytes of data over the span of a month. That’s half of an entire basic wireless service plan from AT&T.” I made a similar mention in January 2017 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/01/30/taking-xbox-to-court/) where in ‘Taking Xbox to Court?‘ where Microsoft uploaded almost 6 GB in a fortnight whilst playing single players games. The fact that Microsoft hid behind: “we have no influence on uploads, that is the responsibility of your ISP!“, as response the Xbox helpdesk (read: party line) that their support gave me when I called still makes me angry. But now it is not merely consoles, it is happening all over the place and the government either does not care, or has no clue, so when we see ‘privacy’ driven issues, I wonder who they are trying to fool. Especially when I was confronted with ‘possible civil contingency need‘, there are optionally so many contingency needs transgressed upon (as I personally see it), how about recognising that in all the elements clear transparency was an essential first, the fact that the large players are not willing to be transparent, we see a much larger issue all over the place.

Even as part of one of the DHSC reports gives us: “It is difficult to prepare detailed predictions or plans for such unpredictable concerns“, so if we see the impact of ‘unpredictable concerns‘, at what point do we ask more serious question on where the foundation of £100 million came from? And it is not merely the spending, those who asked the questions and the exact questions themselves would also need to be scrutinised, because the private firms merely facilitated and they did nothing wrong, the other side needs to be looked at, to a much higher degree than ever before.

Now consider a paper by DLA Piper (at https://www.dlapiper.com/en/uk/insights/publications/2019/04/no-deal-brexit/data-protection/) only a month ago where we see: “UK data protection law is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect across all EU member states (including the UK) on 25 May 2018, and creates a harmonised legal framework regulating the way in which personal data is collected, used and shared throughout the EU. Should the UK leave the EU, the GDPR will cease to have direct effect in the UK. However, as the UK is committed to maintaining an equivalent data protection regime, a UK version of the GDPR will effectively apply following the departure date (exit-day)“. This is fair enough, yet as the Washington Post two days ago and I was able to show (850 days ago) that the collection of personal data is already off the wall, so at what point will we see recognition that the point of no return was passed a few hundred days ago?

So at what point are there questions on DLA Piper (who did nothing wrong) regarding; “The GDPR imposes restrictions on the transfer of personal data to a ‘third country’” and as the Washington Post gives us an iPhone example, we see that Huawei is clearly 0% guilty in that part, so how is the entire: ‘President Trump is clueless on true national security in the first place‘ not directly on the mind of all, especially when the transgressions are seemingly global. Perhaps when we realise that these are American Apps there is optional no national security infringement and privacy is merely a concept for all the players of that issue in town. At what point will the UK realise that they have much larger issues?

Even as there is complete acceptance of: “It is important to be aware that SCCs cannot be used to safeguard all transfers – for example SCCs do not exist for transfers between an EU-based processor and a UK-based controller (ie where a UK controller hosts personal data with an EU processor). This is a known area of risk to regulators, which impacted organisations may decide to ‘risk manage’ where data repatriation is not a realistic options“, I am willing to state that not only is ‘data repatriation is not realistic‘, it was not an option well over two years ago and the loss of data  (read: data copy transfer) under 5G will merely increase by a speculated 500%.

It is the realisation of these elements where we need to revisit: ‘those who asked the questions and the exact questions themselves would also need to be scrutinised‘.

I wonder if that was done and more important to what degree. We can agree that investigation on what might happen might have a steep price, I get that, yet overall there are larger issues regarding the exact question what was asked, the model, the data, the collection and the integrity of data regarding the question that needed to get answered. I wonder (because I actually do not know), how far did Tussel go regarding that part of the equation?

So how did this get from a bakery cake to 4G and 5G privacy?

It is about the cost of doing business, not merely the stage of prepared for what comes next and I feel that in light of what we are shown by the Guardian, the ‘cost of doing business’ and the ‘next stage of enterprising’ is not aligned, when we realise that there is a large non-alignment of issues, how large is the gap in these reports, not merely on legislation and policy, but on operational levels that will get hit first. The DLA Piper part makes perfect sense, yet when you realise that the mobile application status is already nowhere near it needs to be, how useful is the DLA Piper part, which is technically speaking flawless? When we see that part of non-alignment, how many reports costing £100 million have an operational discrepancy when tested to the actuality of the events?

In equal measure we get the additional question, would transparency have solved that, which is likely to give the answer that require us to take a hard look at those phrasing the questions. One led to the other, and I merely looked at the digital part, when we look at actual shipping (and ships), we see the realisation that the UK is still an island, one tunnel does not solve that, how do we see the filling of the prospect of the danger that a lot more contingency plans are missing, not because of Brexit, but because they already should have been there, the IOS data tracking part is evidence of that.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Politics, Science

Outrage

I am angry and I need your help!

This is not some weak story about a person who is lost, this is a story about a person who is determined. You see, we have all had enough of the press to some extend and now the time is right to give them a little medicine of their own. This all started as I saw this article ‘Matrix director Lilly Wachowski comes out as a transgender woman’ (at http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/mar/09/matrix-director-lilly-wachowski-comes-out-as-a-transgender-woman). This seemed not a biggie at first, people make choices, they make them of their own accord and initially I shrugged and thought nothing of it. It is the subtitle that got my blood boiling, almost in a literal way. It stated “she went public after Britain’s Daily Mail ‘threatened public outing’“, now add to this the quote “she referred to the incident as a “threatened public outing against my will”, drawing comparisons to a similar incident involving the paper“. Now add the following parts: “Lucy Meadows, took her life after the Daily Mail published a column by Richard Littlejohn titled “He’s not only in the wrong body … he’s in the wrong job”. Michael Singleton, coroner for Blackburn, Hyndburn and Rossendale, criticised the “sensational and salacious” coverage which he blamed for her death” and “I just wanted – needed – some time to get my head right, to feel comfortable. But apparently I don’t get to decide this“. Well, let’s see if we can change that. I think that change is inevitable, especially if we all unite. You see, from my point of view when ‘pussies’ like that prey on those in vulnerable positions, whilst at the same time ignore transgressions by places like Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) and a few other players, I feel it has become important to change the game that some Journo’s have been playing.

So, let’s turn the tables, especially for those in the UK. Let’s open our offensive on people like Paul Dacre, the Journo’s at the Daily Mail and DMG Media with Viscount Rothermere (for now). Let’s put them in the spotlight!

First up – Viscount Rothermere

Rothermere believes the Daily Mail has been “built on solid ground” and a unique place in the market (Leveson testimony). In my view, as seen in the Guardian as stated by Lilly Wachowsky: “a journalist from Britain’s Daily Mail attempted to coerce her“, so Harold, that unique place, is that coercing people? Why not show some balls and try that on Ian Powell and Gaenor Bagley and coerce some information regarding PwC’s alleged action with Tesco? Perhaps they will give you the goods or that coercing Journo and you will end up with a real scoop, you know, the kind of real ground-breaking stuff towards possible criminal indictment and so on. Or is that a little bit too much of a stretch? Or perhaps there is the ever so slight chance that they will strike back in different ways? Now consider “Rothermere says: “built on a fundamental belief in a trust in journalism as opposed to technology. That’s what makes me proud“, yes, coercing laptops is a little hard, unless you hack them, which might be not all on the up and up legally seen. Finally we get the quote (from the Leveson part) “he is confident the Daily Mail has acted ethically. ‘And I am willing to stand up for us’“, which can be clearly thrown out of the window regarding Lilly Wachowsky. I wonder if we see shrugs, excuses (by stating: ‘It’s on the desk of Paul Dacre’) and other modes of a trans-neglecting mindset.

Second up – Paul Dacre

In December 2015 he proclaimed that he is all about Freedom of Information. He stated: “In the main, I suspect, dislike of FoI is driven by Whitehall’s belief that civil servants should be exempt from public scrutiny. This is in my view counter-productive, and perceived by the public simply as a compulsion to cover backsides“, so is that FoI under any option? Like coercion, blackmail, hacking? Whilst Paul was nice enough to have the quote: “an elitist political class protecting its own interests“, which is like the Journo calling the Politician selfish. That is not the idea we get when their profit is numbers of circulation and now includes Coercion, we can hope it is ONLY coercion (meaning the least offensive way) you get to feed your papers circulation with.

Now let’s get back to 2013 (at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/10/03/miliband-daily-mail-inquiry_n_4038824.html), where we see: “The chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust has apologised to Ed Miliband after a reporter turned up uninvited at a family memorial service, but insisted the incident did not reflect the “culture and practices” of his papers“, which we can of course set as fictional when we see the ordeal of Lilly Wachowski just faced.

So until the Daily Mail starts their front-page with ‘alleged trans gender’s Harold Jonathan Harmsworth and Paul Dacre surprised their staff by growing some balls‘, they have now promised to actively dig into the involvement of PwC regarding Tesco. I very much doubt that it will ever happen, so until that moment comes, why don’t we make sure that the public at large gets to see every act from these Daily Mail journalists and their family members? I reckon that the public has a right to know, let’s see how many articles and photographs it takes for these revelations until we get:

  1. Some fake apology
  2. Threats that there is oppression against the freedom of the press
  3. Demands from Whitehall against acts that endangers the independence of journalists.

In all this, it seems utterly unlikely that the Daily Mail will hold itself up to any scrutiny and any level of Ethics and/or Integrity.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Law, Media, Politics

Costing in the key of life

Over the last decade, political parties have squandered the needs of their constituents. Liberals, conservatives and Labour alike in both the UK and Australia. I have seen the pressure as housing is no longer an options for many. It is a skewed approach to a solution that fit only the truly wealthy. It is a system that has been ignored, shovelled all over the place and no one has done anything serious to address it. How much longer can this go on?

Yesterday’s article in the Guardian by Robert Booth is only the tip of the iceberg that sank the good ship lollipop (at http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/jan/01/london-flats-costing-up-to-1m-outsell-more-affordable-homes). The title ‘London flats costing up to £1m outsell more affordable homes‘ is on one side deceptive on the other side it is illustrative of several administrations that have not considered any solution, just a propagation of the Status Quo. The quote ‘sold more than twice as many two-bedroom apartments costing between £650,000 and £1m as cheaper homes priced at about £300,000‘ is partially deceptive. You see when you see the data ‘Sales of London homes banded by asking price per square foot’, we see the numbers, but what is missing is not ‘what is sold‘ but the metric ‘available places that people can afford‘, Even higher educated barristers admitted to the bar will not be able to show an annual income of £200,000, which means that even the highest educated are not in line for anything decent any day soon. In Australia the Commonwealth Bank of Australia is now marketing the alternative in the trend of ‘Use your spare room to help pay off your mortgage!‘, they voice it like ‘my new business‘, but in the end, it is a risky approach to either a mortgage that is higher than you bargained for or one that was outside your reach an they are voicing the ‘entrepreneurial’ edge to hide the risk. What if that person suddenly gets into a financial wash? What if the Granny involved dies? All elements that take weeks if not months to resolve and the mortgage is still due. In addition permits might be needed. Nothing of that is clearly shown. The entire housing market is in a dangerous place because the political parties have ‘conveniently’ ignored the lower branches of income and in all that the rent is also still rising whilst incomes are not moving forward. So we are in a place where London, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are pricing their cities into non-sustainable situations and it has been going on for the better part of two decades. All these places have been trailing demand for over a decade by a decadent amount, whilst they should have been ahead of the curve for at least a decade.

When we look at the following quote in the Guardian “Campbell Robb, the chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter. “It is promising to see the government finally focusing on building more homes. But the only way to truly solve this housing crisis is for both the mayor and central government to finally prioritise building homes that Londoners on ordinary incomes can afford to rent or buy, instead of just higher earners.”“, question marks should be clearly placed, because ‘finally focusing on building more homes’ should have started in 2003 in both London and Sydney. Now, we have to accept that the city is no longer an option for many, yet when we look 4 minutes away from there we see the same trend of shortage. We are face with either not enough, or not affordable. A increasingly larger population in Sydney is now confronted that their income will at best support the rent of a mere studio apartment, meaning that the bulk must rely on 2 incomes to get anything above a one bedroom apartment, more than that, the current growth of rent means that any year that an annual increase of 3% is not met or exceeded, the living standard goes down on a quarterly base. These numbers might sound scary, but compared to London it is nowhere near as bad as it gets. The political parties have abandoned its population all for the need and premise of inviting wealth into the UK and Australia, whilst there is no evidence that these people are spending a great deal in those places, other than supporting and funding new unaffordable buildings. This goes far beyond these mere borders, we see a similar evolution in the Netherlands, where the issue is even more interesting as larger proportions of the Netherlands are facing a similar issue we see in London and Sydney. There is no ignoring the act that the Netherlands is only a fraction of the size of the UK (and an even more diminishable part of Australia), which of course drives prices up even faster. The Guardian article shows the most dangerous part at the very end with the quote “Since 2009, the fastest growing locations for new housing have been Barnet, Brent, Croydon, Newham and Wandsworth. In Croydon, the price of dozens of flats in the Coombe Cross development have increased by around a quarter, with one-bedroom flats rising £63,000 to £287,950“, now implying that the outer doughnut is no longer affordable, moreover, the fact that not more alerts are ringing all over Whitehall with an increase of 25% is even more unsettling. The average UK salary might be set at £26,500, but that implies that well over 50% of the UK is faced with a house price well over 1,000% of their income, making it never an option. That same trend is seen in Australia, where the median house price is now set at one million, setting the house price on average between 1,500% and 2,000% of their income, an issue that could have been avoided if the parties a decade ago had set clear paths in motion to battle this dangerous trend. Whilst both places are steering towards the New York unaffordability we are also faced with a situation that our values of life are in equal decrease, because as we move from nations that are no longer ‘working to live’, but nations that moved to ‘live to work’, our values will diminish faster and faster and it is all due to a path of greed and a path of flaccid and unreliable politicians. Labour UK 1997 – 2010, Labour AUS 2007 – 2013, in Australia partial fault is also with the Liberals as John Howard was sailing the good Ship Wallaby from 1996 – 2007. All parties that seemed to forget that not everyone can afford to live on a $100K+ income and we will be paying for their shortcomings for a long time to come.

I wonder if it ever gets properly solved without having to resort to ‘culling’ the population at large.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Politics

They don’t know what they do!

The article started funny enough. The headline ‘Leaked universal credit memo shows jobcentre staff struggling with rollout’ gave me a clear indication that this is another one of these, let’s get into a world we do not understand (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/oct/27/universal-credit-leaked-memo-scheme-rollout).

I admit that my words here are presumptuous, but I have seen this before, to be honest many of us have seen this before. There was the NHS with 14 billion plus wasted and there were a few other projects, all gone down the drain. So, why can’t some people get their act together?

The first quote is likely the most offensive one, especially in my eyes: “The DWP had promised to have 1 million people on the scheme by April 2014 but, dogged by delays and tens of millions of pounds of IT write-downs and write-offs, the original timetable has been scrapped. Just 15,000 people are on the system“, you think what is wrong with this picture. Consider a $389 notebook, not a great piece of equipment, but I can install a variety of SQL products and have these filled with a database containing the population data of Poland in about an hour, so why do we see a system with only 15,000 records? (intentional trivialisation was used here)

When we get to the timeline (which by the way was not chronological), we see several issues. Let us take a look at them.

28th April 2013 – Trial begins for Universal credit (UC), which is covered in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/mar/31/liberal-conservative-coalition-conservatives)

Universal credit introduced.
The new in- and out-of-work credit, which integrates six of the main out-of-work benefits, will start to be implemented this April in one jobcentre in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester. The aim is to increase incentives to work for the unemployed and to encourage longer hours for those working part-time. It had been intended that four jobcentres would start the trial in April, but this has been delayed until July, and a national programme will start in September for new claimants. They will test the new sanctions regime and a new fortnightly job search trial, which aims to ensure all jobseeker’s allowance and unemployment claimants are automatically signed onto Job Match, an internet-based job-search mechanism. Suspicion remains that the software is not ready.

The issues are as follows:

  1. Will start to be implemented this April‘, this means that the system had been prototyped, this means that the software has been tested and that the interface has been tested by users, so that a nearly clean version goes online.
  2. The information ‘Suspicion remains that the software is not ready‘, should have been a very clear indication that the brakes had to be applied and at this point, investigations on the entire track should have commenced.

24th May 2013 The Major Projects Authority review expresses serious concerns about the department having no detailed “blueprint” and transition plan for UC (at http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/may/24/universal-credit-danger-failing-whitehall-review)

Universal credit in danger of failing, official Whitehall review says
The first official government admission that Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship plans to remake the welfare state has hit trouble emerged on Friday night when the Cabinet Office’s review of all major Whitehall projects branded the universal credit programme as having fallen into “amber-red” status, a category designating a project in danger of failing.

You think? How about, the issues shown after a month when there were already doubts we see an utter lack of commitment, there is no other way to describe it. When I see the quote “Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, hailed the publication: ‘Major projects need scrutiny and support if we are to succeed in the global race’“, which in my book comes across as ‘only silent scrutiny is allowed. This project is too big‘, which in my eyes is nothing less than a joke, one the taxpayer is paying for by the way. I must also clarify that this is how I initially read it, not how Francis Maude stated it, he seems to want accountability, so do I, it is just too convenient that many involved are not named at all.

In addition we see “An MPA rating of amber-red will anger the DWP, which has insisted that universal credit is on time and on budget” furthermore we see “Data has been exempted from only 21 projects in the review by the Major Projects Authority (MPA), where disclosure would damage commercial interests or national security“.

So now we get the following:

  1. Who at the DWP had made that statement? We want to see his name and his dismissal; I say again dismissal, not his resignation.
  2. Was the same person making the claims in regards to October 2013? This means that we were at that point faced with two delays on a pretty expensive endeavour. More important, until now, there has been a slacking handle on this project, which is likely to be only one of many.

Now we look at two events:

5th September 2013 A National Audit Office report reveals ministers have written off £34m on failed IT programmes and the launch may be delayed beyond 2017 (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/sep/05/david-cameron-24bn-universal-credit-problems), where we see ‘David Cameron’s £2.4bn universal credit project riddled with problems‘, so the entire UC is more than just a few pennies and we are not seeing any accountability, no criminal charges and no product. We can look at the quote, which is “The National Audit Office said universal credit, the £2.4bn project meant to consolidate six welfare payments into one, has been beset by ‘weak management, ineffective control and poor governance’“, I am about to call it something else entirely.

31st October 2013 The Guardian reveals ministers have been presented with a radical plan to restart UC and write off £119m of work over the past three years (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/31/universal)

Now we see the following additional quotes “Ministers attempting to put the troubled universal credit welfare reform programme back on track have been presented with a radical plan to restart the scheme and write off £119m of work over the past three years” and “The risk assessment warns that the plan to start again, the ‘design and build’ web-based scheme, is ‘unproven … at this scale’“. It says the plan to fix three years of work on universal credit is still “not achievable within the preferred timescales“, describing it as unrealistic”

These two give us the following:

  1. If we revisit “In March 2013 Duncan Smith told parliament that universal credit ‘is proceeding exactly in accordance with plans’“, then why on earth is Duncan Smith in any government building? If we look at statements from Margaret Hodge and the NAO, there is a clear indication that extreme sanitisation is needed at the DWP, the fact that this multi-billion pound fiasco is still around at that time should give cause to many serious questions.

Just to make sure the reader understands the gravity of this situation, the bungling and wasting of resources at that point could have given nearly every current university student a FREE University degree, which is saying a lot, in addition, those studying IT, might have completed the project for the price of their education, which is saying a lot!

  1. Writing off 119 million of work delivered. A failure is not work delivered, who was minding the stores, the contracts as well as the targets that had to be met? The fact that the amount in the database at present (15,000 people) could have been achieved with a $99 program called Microsoft Access, so can we have the 118,999,901 back please?

When we revisit the September quote “The DWP said the department would continue with the planned reform and was committed to delivering it on time by 2017 and within budget“, we can clearly see that either the DWP has no clue what it was doing, or we have another echelon of people and their ‘goals‘ messing things up.

Are my assumptions valid? Well, so far I did not waste billions, so I am inclined to say yes!

By the way, who did the original costing, who presented the plan and what remains of the initial plan? Because a blowout of these proportions should be regarded as clear evidence that the thought might have been nice, but none of the deciding parties had any clue on what was being decided on (my evidence here are the squandered billions as we see them melting away).

You see, in the old days, in my life, designing a database system was relatively simple. It took 5 weeks and a few iterations of tweaking to get the customer this container system. It worked like a charm! That is what is needed here. People have been overcomplicating things by massive portions.

  1. Web based solution.
    Really? With all the intrusions, phishing and other forms of malignant issues, you are going to a web based option? Let’s be clear, this system is all about letters and numbers, so an ASCII based system, which in the old days it was called a DOS program. In this situation a UNIX solution should be sought, but the overall idea is clear. In addition, UNIX is much safer, better protected and scripting allows for evolution when needed. I knew a guy once, who created a scripted solution for product distribution for a global Fortune 500 company, it was one of the few innovative software solutions that actually worked and worked when most systems had to be upgraded, it worked on a Pentium 1 with 90 MHz, a system we now buy for $49 (if even for that much), It conversed with several dozens of locations.

Now, today, when we look at the UC, something bigger is needed, but the systems of yesterday are already 2000 times stronger than the initial system it was designed on, so we can clearly see that the spending of a few billion require a deeper digging, as well as a serious interview by the members of the House of Commons towards the involved members of the DWP.

  1. more web-based system
    The risk assessment, dated 11th October, says the plan for a faster, more web-based system would involve writing off £119m of previous work, and cost the DWP £96m to develop. However, it warns ministers that they will have no idea if the web-based system will work until the summer of 2014 ‘when it is live for 100 claimants’

And the laughter just does not stop here, ‘more’ web based system? The people here did not learn the first time? If you want speed, consider simple ASCII, with perhaps local formatted XML. You see, you get loads of characters across in mere milliseconds (36 characters including 10 numbers tends to be fast), and let us not forget, this is all set towards 6 systems, so you need speed. So only this summer was there any chance of knowing anything, so can we wonder again where the money went, because someone is getting pretty rich here and it is not me (alas).

In these two issues we see a reiterated failure, which gives a clear signal that the original design, which would have been BEFORE money was spend, should not have passed any hurdles as I see it.

When I think ANY project I see the following

  1. request
  2. design
  3. prototype
  4. finalise
  5. test
  6. implement

Now, I will admit that a large project needs a lot more, but these 6 steps for the initial trial should have been done in 90 days for 7 tests. One test of each system and the 7th to see one person collected on all 6 systems. Now we have a master that gets us trials where this simple program could be used to star testing everywhere and see if data comes across, yes, this is nowhere near finished, but in the foundation we see what happens if the data of 150,000 people gets requested, so now we know that data can be obtained and we see a timeline of speed and more important bandwidth, because that will be the killer. If we revisit the original time line where the plan was offered in October 2010, which means that this test could have been done before Christmas, so how was time and money wasted, because as we see the Multi Billion pound bill that would be the direct question evolving from this.

The complications
Yes, I am not ignoring this. A system with this much data access will need all levels of security and encryption, there is no denying this, yet using a ‘web-based’ approach seems to me that we might as well give a copy of all this data to the cyber criminals. There are always suite options of security, and yes that needs work, yet some local test could have been made, in addition, a system this vast will need all kind of implementation servers and trained support staff, steps that were not even anywhere near implementing, were they costed for?

When we see the timeline and the involvement from ‘interested’ parties, I cannot stop but wonder what could have been if the right people had sat down, because those involved screwed the pooch big time and the taxpayer can see the billions they have to cough up for a system that never worked.

We will end with three quotes all from the October 27th 2014 article.

  1. leaked Whitehall documents warned of a failing IT system, more than £1m in wasted expenditure, and how only 25,000 claimants would likely to be served by the system by the general election next year.
  2. The government has written off or written down £130m on the project, which is designed to revolutionise the culture around claiming benefits. It now expects 100,000 people to be on the system by May 2015 and for 100 centres to be involved in its delivery by the end of this year.
  3. When fully rolled out, UC will make 3 million families better off by £177 a month and lift up to 300,000 children out of poverty.”

From the three points we get the following, if the system is turning nuts and bolts at present when there are between 25,000 and 100,000, what complications will we see when the other 2.95 million are added, if we see the issues with less than 4% populated, what happens when the other 96% is added?

When we see the quote in regards to a couple not getting paid, whilst in addition changing their details took three months, we can conclude form the quote “The DWP said the couple’s claim had been delayed because the pair had failed to complete the correct forms. Responding to Dispatches’ findings, a spokesman told the Guardian: ‘Universal credit’s IT system is robust and effective, and we have trained 26,300 work coaches who are successfully providing new support to claimants to help them better prepare for work’“, well if there are 26,300 work coaches and there are currently 25,000 in the system, why did it take three months to correct this? In addition, how come the wrong forms were filled in, what was the cause of that? Should the system not have reported (almost immediately) that the forms did not constitute their current social status/predicament?

This is more than a simple failing; this system seems to lack basic foundations, especially with three months delays.

The sad part is that this is not the first issue we see, when we consider the NHS debacle which I discussed in ‘the second exploitation‘ on August 10th, how the NHS options resulted in a wasted 15 billion, whilst no one seems to take a deeper look at how such large amounts get wasted. Now with the UC we see a similar development, it would be so nice for someone in Whitehall to recognise the need for actual change so that squandering might be minimised be a lot more then it currently is.

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics, Science