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

  Forum Editor 19:04 19 Aug 2014
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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.

  johndrew 14:09 20 Aug 2014

spuds

Whilst I agree with your father that it should work that way - and may work in some cases - there is, apparently, a tipping point above which such a person is only promoted to do more (better?) damage. Whether this results from the incompetence of another in promoting the individual or some other cause is not known to me, but I have seen it in practise in various areas unfortunately.

Probably a result of the perfect world in which we live and all the honest people who make decisions based on genuine evidence - or not as the case may be.

  namtas 15:56 20 Aug 2014

Which is correct, but how many companies, involve other companies when tendering, and that might include a competitor?. In addition to Woolwell's reply, which is spot on, a contractors was not allowed to subcontract or if they intended to do so then they had to provide full information and reasons. I know that some have been sceptical of the Government and in particular the UK Civil Service, but I can say that tendering with MOD was not a walk in the park for contractors, And those that tendered and didn't read the spec often got caught.

  Forum Editor 06:48 21 Aug 2014

I'm fully aware of the complexities involved in the tenderinmg process, I have been involv ed in that myself. My point was that once awarded, the contract appears to have been mismanaged by the UK Border Agency. Not only that, but the person who was responsible for awarding and managing it has been promoted to head of HMRC.

  namtas 09:35 21 Aug 2014

I'm fully aware of the complexities involved in the tenderinmg (sic) process

It would have been foolish of me to think that you were not fully conversant with all of the complexities of government tendering processes and that was not my aim or intention, I am posting for the benefit of all readers and I guess most will NOT have had such an insight. My intention in posting (as always) was to add to the discussion not to destroy it.

  spuds 10:26 21 Aug 2014

"My point was that once awarded, the contract appears to have been mismanaged by the UK Border Agency. Not only that, but the person who was responsible for awarding and managing it has been promoted to head of HMRC."

This is nothing new, like I pointed out earlier. but does people ever bother to listen. Some may, others certainly don't?.

I often watch the BBC Parliament programme, and the Select Committees sessions, and it doesn't take much to see what is happening, and why people are being called to explain their actions. Some of the revelations are a utter disgrace, and perhaps more so, if there is a very arrogant person or person's attempting to prove they are right, even though the facts state otherwise.

Time and time again, we hear about "the best person for the job", yet how many times, either in the public sector or commercial sector, have this found not to be true, and the person as 'moved on' to bolster their career?.

Consider also, it wasn't just one person making decisions in this particular incident, but possibly an whole host of others, some no doubt, very much 'Yes' people, who might have been afraid to disagree, because their own career or employment was on the line, possibly due to politics?.

Yes there have been some dramatic changes, after the events were fully known and perhaps brought to the public's attention, but by that time, disaster as already struck. What is the most annoying part of all this, is that the public are constantly being told about 'Accountability - Transparancy', yet this at times seems to be the last thing on the agenda?.

  Forum Editor 18:43 21 Aug 2014

namtas

Calm down, I wasn't having a go at you. I was merely saying that I know about IT tendering. I didn't mention government tendering, about which I know little.

  Forum Editor 18:48 21 Aug 2014

spuds

Time and time again, we hear about "the best person for the job"

We do, and yet it has become patently obvious that a person who heads up this or that government department, or Public service operation cannot possibly be the best person for the job where big IT projects are involved. That kind of work requires specialists - people who have the experience and knowledge to enable them to manage IT contracts to completion.

I cannot for the life of me understand why our government seems to repeat the same mistake over and over again.

  Aitchbee 22:46 21 Aug 2014

I cannot for the life of me understand why our government seems to repeat the same mistake over and over again.

It might be a good idea to create some new subjects at primary school starting with 'How To Run A Successful Government'.

  BillSers 08:28 22 Aug 2014

Mind you £220 million seems a piddling amount compared to this in 2011:

UK government scraps the £12 billion National program for IT in the NHS.

I wonder how many were promoted in that fiasco.

  spuds 10:16 22 Aug 2014

beeueem - Keith Vaz may have been in the government, that made the original decision, but like most MP's he probably had very little say in the matter. It was probably decided by senior politicians and civil servant's (should I say civil servant's, or is that now a forbidden word?). It was also perhaps a case of 'obeying', the party line, and any MP would seriously think twice about that?.

The Labour government in power at the time, signed their name to the document,and it was the Coalition government that chose to take the action they did. And if that doesn't ring alarm bells about the state of politics in this country, then nothing will.

I mentioned in a previous post, about a similar cancellation incident, that involved expanding the capacities of prison's and secure unit's, due to the increase of possible custodial sentences, that the Labour government sanctioned. This present government have apparently now seen an alternative to that, and that is about building colleges for offender's?.

BillSer - But it isn't just the government, there are many such 'errors of judgement or expertise', and here's just one of many examples, our world renown BBC click here the case, its just public money being spent, a bit like the now forgotten financial bail-outs. Yet what's annoying is the fact that the public are expected to pick up the bill, everytime a major error occurs, and at the same time are not being rewarded for doing so. Personally I get very cheesed off by being told by my local council, that there is no money in the kitty, then you see wasteful expensive projects being bulldozed through, that the public didn't want, even to the point of street protests and petitions. But I suppose the politicians and their adviser's know best?.

...........

Whatever

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