Sometimes I wonder just what goes on in the minds of Ministers

  Forum Editor 19:04 19 Aug 2014

I've been hearing about how we (taxpayers) must fork out at least £220 million to a US IT company because our government acted wrongly when it terminated a badly-managed Border agency IT project.

The project was to make us more secure by monitoring every person who enters or leaves the country, and compares the names of travelers to international databases of known terrorists and other undesirables. Inbound travelers would be checked at their point of departure, and would not be allowed to travel if we didn't want them here. All modes of travel would be monitored, including Euro-star trains.

Called e-borders, it's a good system, except that we don't have it. The idea was initiated by the last Labour government; the contract was signed in 2007, and by 2010 when the current government arrived it was already a complete mess, and at least a year behind schedule. Theresa May, acting on the advice of Civil Service experts decided to cancel the contract, and Raytheon (the US IT company) went to an arbitration tribunal which made the award mentioned above.

The person responsible for managing the project on behalf of the Border Agency was a certain Lin Homer, who is shortly going to be grilled by the Home Affairs select committee over her handling of the IT fiasco and 'other matters' relating to her time as head of the Border Agency. Keith Vaz is quoted as saying that "We will want to hear further from Lin Homer, the then head of the UKBA, as to why she sanctioned such a defective agreement."

Quite. I'm looking forward to hearing what she has to say about this as well, seeing as how I've chipped in some of the £250 million we have already spent on the project - money that is now down the drain.

I would also quite like to know why the said Lin Homer has since been promoted to become head of HMRC.

You couldn't make it up.

  wee eddie 19:44 19 Aug 2014

Had the UK been a Company it's Management Team, over the last 20 years, would have Bankrupted it.

The level of competence, exhibited by both Ministers and Senior Civil Servants, has been abysmal.

FE: You have drawn attention to the Border Agency, perhaps one might add to that, the Databases commissioned for the NHS, BBC, the Social Services and finally, but not least, the Equipment Acquisition for our Armed Forces.

One sometimes wonders if inducements were offered, for the awarding of Contracts, because the logic of some of their choices appear to offer little else by way of explanation?

  Aitchbee 19:54 19 Aug 2014

How come there's already 3,000+ views on this thread in less than an hour?

  Mr Mistoffelees 20:10 19 Aug 2014

"Aitchbee", did you not know it is compulsory for all site visitors to view new threads from our esteemed FE?

  john bunyan 20:15 19 Aug 2014


How come there's already 3,000+ views on this thread in less than an hour?

Maybe because it is the only Speakers Corner thread started all day - a record? Many seem to be away..

On the point of the thread, it is indeed simply staggering how much is wasted on unfinished IT programmes by public bodies as mentioned by wee eddie above.

In a multinational , heads(s)would roll. The total of those he mentioned is quite staggering.

  john bunyan 20:24 19 Aug 2014

PS. Now up to 5200 views; a popular man, FE.

  Aitchbee 20:34 19 Aug 2014

"Many seem to be away..."

I was away - got 20 big pots cleared today [during the lull] :o]

  john bunyan 20:42 19 Aug 2014

Now over 6000 views - at this rate the thred will,rival threads such as the locked " Tinned txxxxxxs" one.

  namtas 20:43 19 Aug 2014

This is just the latest in a line of cancellations and over budget contracts. Before streamlining took place most of the design checking and commissioning for large projects such as this was done in house by Government department with very skilled specialists and engineers working to proven standard specifications and controls. Today that has all gone and it is done by thousands of contractors each with a small element. The problem is that there is no clear picture of the end product and parts start to get bolted on, another department wakes up and decides they would like a widget added, this leads to more problems and so it goes on, eventually cost becomes unacceptable and it falls down. Perhaps it was not such a money saver to close down all those government department at least they kept it together and knew when to say sorry that was not in the spec so you are not getting it without a variation order.
click here

  namtas 20:45 19 Aug 2014

It is all those pent up mice that have waited for 17 hours for something new to click onto.

  Al94 20:50 19 Aug 2014

To be honest it's no big surprise. I sit on different charity boards comprised of civil servants and from the private sector. The difference is mind blowing. Without exception the civil servants I encounter are clueless to the point of stupidity, disorganised, seemingly unable or unwilling to see anything through to completion without a major wake up call from those in the private sector. Incompetence seems a necessary criteria.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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