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Universal Credit has never delivered bang for buck, but now there's no turning back – watchdog

The government position:

Boo hoo. We're doing it anyway, so fuck you and suck it up, bitches.

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Re: The government position:

That is basically what was said on QT last night.

Oh, and the NAO was wrong.

WTF has happened to government in the UK?

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Re: The government position:

WTF has happened to government in the UK?

We had a referendum and decided to let the Daily Mail run the country instead.

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Facepalm

Re: The government position:

So many WTFs

- They're running 2 systems in parallel (good practice) but can't switch back to the old system?

- Using Agile as an excuse for not setting timescales for delivery of User Stories?

- Exceeding the expected cost savings, yet still continuing?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The government position:

> The Department for Work and Pensions took an agile approach, meaning it could adjust its plans

Nothing spells "unmitigated disaster" for a project quite has hard as taking an "agile approach". For a start it means that the project owner has no clue what they actually want to deliver.

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Unhappy

Re: The government position:

WTF has happened to government in the UK?

Same as is happening everywhere. It's being run by people who see it it as a business, not a service. Career politicians who put their own interests ahead of those who voted for them, and assume that normal rules & laws don't apply to them.

Then again, we voted for them.

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Meh

Re: The government position:

"Then again, we voted for them."

It doesn't matter who we vote for, they're all mendacious clueless fuckwits being led around by the nose by some faceless / unaccountable Whitehall mandarin that never changes except when they accept their knighthood and fat final salary gold plated pension and pass the baton onto the next faceless / unaccountable mandarin.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The government position:

faceless / unaccountable Whitehall mandarin

s/Whitehall/Whitehall,Brussels,Washington,Berlin,Paris,etc./

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Re: The government position:

@Phil

Well, if you think you can do better, why not give it a go? Sometimes the non-establishment candidate gets in, e.g. President Trump.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The government position:

Because I'm not in Russia and I haven't got the servers.

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Re: The government position:

The degree of incompetence demonstrated by the U.K. Govt. in its management of the U.C. project is astounding. It's a bizarre aspect of reality that those same people consider themselves capable of managing the country.

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Thumb Up

Re: The government position:

@Primus Secundus Tertius

There is, of course merit to what you say because in general it seems that an MP who has had experience of actual life are pretty good and trying their hardest to get the right things done but they're rarely permitted to inner sanctum of party politics, you'll never find a free thinker on the front benches, they're considered far too dangerous. They also seem to be in short supply

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Re: The government position:

"Then again, we voted for them."

<Raises hand>

Er... no... not all of us. And before you ask, no I didn't vote for "the other guy" either.

Sorry, when your only option is between two idiots that will scam every penny out of their position while being inept at performing their duties, then there's no point voting at all. "Hopefully this guy is slightly less of a scumbag" isn't democracy.

And if you were to open the polls to allow yourself to vote for anyone, it would be a very different world. Even a "none-of-the-above" option that if it wins means all current candidates are ineligible for the position and we have to keep voting for new people until the position is filled would quickly weed out all of the big-name politicians who are prisons minister one minute and agricultural minister the next, and have registered interests all over the shop.

(P.S. I'm of the opinion that register of interests is a great idea. But absolutely bog-useless unless it means you're actually required to choose between "can be in a related position", "can hold an interest which they would be required to register to hold that position". i.e. you can be in charge of government IT, or you can have shares in the companies chosen to run the IT, but not both. I would also argue that if you're in charge of something like a major government project, you should not have TIME to have any registered interests which involve you sitting on other boards, companies, etc.).

While you're operating purely on a two party system, you will constantly be presented with two unsuitable and unscrupulous candidates from the HUNDREDS of such available on each side, and nothing will ever change (if one goes down, the next just pops up with the same ideas). They are literally both as bad as each other, and have been for centuries. Until you break away from that, people like myself will treat all politicians, and political discussions, with equal contempt. Because you all sound the same. You all say the same. The "other guys" are always the ones doing wrong. And nothing changes when it switches over.

You want to solve the problems? Put an IT guy in charge of the IT projects, not a minister, and make it illegal for them to personally benefit in any way from being in such a position beyond their (reasonable) salary.

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Re: The government position:

@Phil

Well, if you think you can do better, why not give it a go?

And of course that's the problem. Maybe I could do better, but to be completely honest it is a job that I would hate so much that I could never give it the effort it needs.

Most of the time I enjoy going to work, but the thought of having to get up in the morning and do that as a job, plus dealing with politicians on a daily basis, gives me nightmares. I'd probably go BOFH and end up in jail.

One can only hope that somewhere out there is someone both competent and willing, so we don't have to choose one or the other...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The government position:

Put an IT guy in charge of the IT projects, not a minister, and make it illegal for them to personally benefit

Sounds good, but that IT guy would have a manager, who would have a manager, and somewhere up that hierarchy would be a minister and/or a politician.

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Re: The government position:

and people think they could run the rail systems. Hilarious!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: s/Whitehall/Whitehall,Brussels,Washington,Berlin,Paris,etc./

everybody talk about

Pop Music!

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Re: The government position:

Well, if you think you can do better, why not give it a go? Sometimes the non-establishment candidate gets in, e.g. President Trump.

So, non-establishment, maybe. But I don't doubt the real architects know how to manipulate him, judicious flattery, letting him get his way on some unimportant points, trimming the agenda temporarily here and there.

Trump is in it for Trump the business, at the end of his term, I'd count the U.S. lucky if there's just no lasting damage - it's more than the U.K. is looking at...

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Re: The government position:

Why would a Project Manager be deciding what gets delivered? They have no place in an Agile delivery organisation. Only the Product Owner can make that call.

Project Managers are only sprinkled in (or in the case of DWP/HMRC/etc, doled in with ladles) to give the illusion of waterfall control when in actuality they're just reporting monkeys.

........ yet again Agile as a software methodology being confused/conflated with public sector political ineptitude.

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Re: The government position:

Then again, we voted for them.

Well, you wouldn't want the wrong lizard to get in, would you?

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Re: The government position:

Nope. Voting is, and always will be choosing the least worst option. Sometimes least worst is still choosing between death between frying pan or fire.

It is democracy, you just don't like it.

There are a number of large and obvious problems that are not easy to solve :

1) The electorate voted for the status quo two referendums ago. They wanted strong parties, and that's what they got.

2) The electorate also do not like being told the truth. Truths include 'someone has to pay for it' and 'due to globalisation, history, population, and improved healthcare you will pay more, and get less'

2a) The refusal to accept 'someone has to pay for it' leads to reduced funding on welfare and healthcare

3) Large corporate interests, and the inability to crack down on them makes this worse

4) It's not quite as easy to shit all over other countries in order to enjoy a high standard of living as it used to be

5) Most competent people won't bother going into politics.

6) The electorate largely don't care about politics, which is a pity, as it's extremely clear that if enough people care about an issue it makes a definite difference to the larger parties' policiies.

7) An increasing cult of personality

If the job is thankless, difficult, and not that well paid why bother doing it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The government position:

Principles for Successful Systems Engineering

This paper summarizes several iterations in developing a compact set of four key principles for successful systems engineering, which are 1) Stakeholder Value-Based System Definition and Evolution 2) Incremental Commitment and Accountability 3) Concurrent Multidiscipline System Definition and Development, and 4) Evidence-Based and Risk-based Decisionmaking. It provides a rationale for the principles, including short example case studies of failed projects that did not apply the principles, and of successful projects that did. It will compare the principles with other sets of principles such as the Lean Systems Engineering and the Hitchins set of principles for successful systems and systems engineering.

Yes it's hard, but Agile-Only Hail Marys as replacement activity ain't gonna work.

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Re: The government position:

Oddly enough, they already do run the rail systems. After a fashion.

The 'raiI minister' who cut all the high-speed commuter services from my local (thameslink) line, but fucked up and didn't provide even approximate replacement services has had another go. And fucked it up some more.

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Re: The government position:

The degree of incompetence demonstrated by the U.K. Govt. in its management of the U.C. project is astounding. It's a bizarre aspect of reality that those same people consider themselves capable of managing the country.

What about the degree of incompetence demonstrated by the IT professionals (sic) who are being paid by the barrowload to implement the project?

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Re: The government position:

You want to solve the problems? Put an IT guy in charge of the IT projects, not a minister

IT guys have proved utterly incapable of delivering this project. Why on earth should they be able to manage it as well?

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Re: The government position:

"WTF has happened to government in the UK?"

It seems that we are all getting dumber since the '70s:

https://www.fastcompany.com/40584777/were-all-getting-dumber-says-science

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Re: The government position:

"Sorry, when your only option is between two idiots that will scam every penny out of their position while being inept at performing their duties, then there's no point voting at all."

It may surprise you to know that politicians know who voted and who didn't.

If you don't bother voting, they're not going to take any notice of your views. It doesn't matter if you spoil your ballot of vote for the monster raving loony party (which is a vote of no confidence in anyone) because they don't know _who_ you voted for, but the fact that you're motivated enough to go to the polling station means they pay attention.

The thought that scares politicians the most is that of 18-35yos collectively pulling their thumbs out of their arses and voting. Likewise all the habitual non-voters. (or put another way, your not voting is effectively two votes for the extremists)

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Re: The government position:

Then again, we voted for them.

The positive of Democracy is everyone gets a vote, the negative is that is also the problem.

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Re: The government position:

DWP and 'agile' do not even belong in the same universe.

DWP belongs with slow, cumbersome, rules-based, box-ticking, legacy.

Agile belongs with new, experimental, startup.

It's like running a bus with a formula-1 engine.

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Anonymous Coward

uk.gov IT

Another blistering success. Huzzah!

(I was particularly impressed by the way the system couldn't cope with months that had 5 pay days in. Because everyone is paid monthly now. Right? Right.)

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Re: uk.gov IT

And if you've got two jobs that'll be up to 10 paydays.

Do they know the people they're supposed to be helping. Who signed off this bollocks?

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Meh

Re: uk.gov IT

"Do they know the people they're supposed to be helping?"

Of course they do, it's those poor, downtrodden rich people.

Did you know that (on the rare occasion they pay some tax), some of that money is just given to poor people? And it's not like these poor people have even bothered to be born to a well-off family, or be not-disabled. If people can't be bothered to help themselves, why should the government help them?

Sarcasm aside, the 'hostile environment' isn't just aimed at immigrants, it's designed to make life as uncomfortable as possible for people on benefits as well.

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Re: uk.gov IT

And apparently if your pay goes into your account a day before the system is expecting it, it just assumes that you're being paid twice this month and adjusts your benefits accordingly.

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Re: uk.gov IT

There are too many WTF's per square inch in this this project for my brain to handle.

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This post has been deleted by its author

DJO
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Business as usual

Tory thinking:

Spend 2bn to save 100m by stripping benefit from the poorest citizens - Just fine & dandy.

Spend anything to stop tax evasion by the rich - No can't do that, think of the children.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Business as usual

But the rich write the newspapers and the drones read them.

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DJO
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Re: Business as usual

No, the rich own the newspapers and that's not the same thing. If you think journalists are rich, you've never met one.

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Agile again?

"The Department for Work and Pensions took an agile approach, meaning it could adjust its plans – but the NAO said incorporating such changes meant it had to delay or slow down the rollout.

The project is now years behind schedule, ..."

Agile means 'the ability to adjust plans'?

So before the DWP took an 'agile approach' the DWP did not have the ability to adjust plans?

Begs the question: (does it have the ability to create plans && the ability to execute any plan).

Lazy evaluation may be a problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Agile again?

I've got an old Universal Credit project plan lying around in my files somewhere where the "sprints" are all laid out as two week blocks on a gantt chart with the intended features they were supposed to deliver laid over the top of that spanning two years into the future.

DWP are about as agile as I am, and I'm the kind of person who looks on exercise as a perversion.

"Agile" in the public sector has nothing to do with the delivery methodology level, it just means they're never going to put forward a full business case so that no one ever notices they've got no fucking idea what they're doing. Instead they'll just go back to cabinet office every two or three months to get incremental funding, relying on their political clout to get the cash through despite complete lack of any of the intended features actually being delivered.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Agile again?

@ Vanir:

> So before the DWP took an 'agile approach' the DWP did not have the ability to adjust plans?

I suspect, it means that both before and after, and almost certainly long into the future, the DWP doesn't even have a plan of any sort, so there's nothing to adjust.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Agile again?

Same in the financial sector too, and retail.

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Anonymous Coward

The reason they won't cancel it is because at the end of the day Universal Credit pays claimants less than the current system due to the cap, so it matters not the cost because it will eventually pay for itself while pushing more people to food banks. It only encourages work because the only other option is severe poverty regardless of the situation.

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FAIL

Seems like the real reasoning behind UC was never to improve things for claimants, nor to save on admin costs.

No siree, its real aim was to get as many claimants off benefits as possible, by making claiming so painful and unreliable that only the most desperate bother to claim. Who cares if the plebs get screwed over, fall into expensive debt, lose their disability benefits, motability, even their homes, spiral into depression, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

That's the one, it's too unpalatable to completely kill the welfare system so it's easier to leave people 8 months without money so they are forced to take low paid self employed unreliable jobs just to survive. That's why we have such low employment. You could argue that's a good thing but then how to do you better yourself when all your time is taken by the job? You can't go to college because you can't afford it and besides you don't have the time because you are now working two jobs because the first one doesn't pay enough to cover your rent and bills, is this the society we want? People unable to improve their lives because of the situation the government puts them in.

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"its real aim was to get as many claimants off benefits as possible"

Well, with tens of thousands of people* dying as a result, I'd say they've achieved their aim.

* 45,000 between 2011 and 2014. Not a typo.

(Source, BMJ)

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Historical or hysterical? you tell me!

Good old fashioned politicians studied History as part of their education, and History used to include the the French Revolution, with the aim if suggesting what could go wrong if you oppress the poor too much.

For those who did not study history: the outcome looks a lot like ISIS, Boko Haram, etc: mass killing sprees with not much logic behind them, mostly the poor killing the poor themselves, and very hard to stop once started. (It is true some of the rich go first, but once started, killing is hard to stop).

And don't forget Gordon Brown, in taxing the "filthy rich" decided that included people on the dole. The definition of "filthy rich" generally means "anyone I can get £1 out of" when it comes to inflicting pain.

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Anonymous Coward

Well, with tens of thousands of people* dying as a result, I'd say they've achieved their aim.

* 45,000 between 2011 and 2014. Not a typo. (Source, BMJ)

Not a typo, no. More like a fundamental failure to understand the difference between welfare payments (UC and other "benefits") and social care arrangements.

Now, possibly unlike you, I've had to call on the state in the last twelve months, and a horrible, demeaning experience it was. But the curious thing is that UC actually works like a form of universal income that has rather a lot of supporters round these parts, whereas older benefits like JSA didn't. I'm now gainfully employed again, and I have NO desire to endure the nature of UC or any other government handout, but lets separate out the NATURE of UC from the IMPLEMENTATION.

I might also add that one of the reasons for introducing UC was that the fragmented nature of former benefits meant that some households could claim more than I currently earn (and for reasons that need not be aired here, that's rather a lot compared to average incomes). Having been on the thin end of the benefits wedge, the idea of stopping some lazy f*ckers from claiming £30k per household (ie "after tax" equivalent) actually strikes me as a bloody good thing.

A welfare state is a good thing. A system that makes welfare a well rewarded career for a few isn't.

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Anonymous Coward

“* 45,000 between 2011 and 2014. Not a typo.”

No, but a complete misrepresentation of the facts.

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Anonymous Coward

We need a revolution

I for one will welcome the day when people march on Number Ten with pitchforks and flaming torches, with the intent to overthrow this corrupt and oppressive regime one and for all.

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