back to article Brown quizzed on gov IT failures

Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted this morning that the government has "a long way to go" to a coherent IT strategy. Brown was giving evidence to the Liaison Committee, which is made up of the chairmen of all other Parliamentary committees. Andrew Miller, chairman of Parliament IT body Pitcom, said the government had said …


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  1. Steve Davies

    "rules not being followed" - complete B/S

    The low level functionary (Mr S Capegoat) had 'root access' to the database.

    i.e. DBA/Admin rights. FFS !!!

    Theonly rule he broke was the cardinal HMG rule "Thou shall not embarass your Masters"

  2. Chris Simmons

    NIR & ID

    “If the Government gives away your bank account details, that is a disaster but you can change your bank account,” he noted. “What precisely do you do if the Government gives away your biometric details?” said David Davis (Shadow Home Sec.) to Jacqui Smith.

    I think that just about sums up the issues relating to ID cards and the NIR. Mr Bean, sorry Brown, has proven he is leading a cabinet and government of incompetent morons for whom control over their populace is now a matter of Stalinism masquerading as measures of protection for their little "snowflakes" of citizens. Somewhere along the line they have mislaid the idea of just trying to run the country while replacing it with an authoritarian program that is such a mish-mash of various political theories that it can, unfortunately, only get worse.

    If they really want to protect me then the least they could do is call an election and get themselves voted out of office.

  3. Tawakalna

    Tipperary..'s a long way to go, too, Gordo.

  4. Silas
    Paris Hilton

    No-one's lost any money...Yet

    Given the lost HMRC disks contained information about children and parents, then the potential losses may not be seen for a few years yet. Although the costs of the operation to find the disks should really be taken into account as it is the taxpayers of the UK who will inevitably be paying for it.

    With regard to Libra - the system used to ensure £15 per criminal is paid as a "victims' surcharge" fee - The Register mentioned in February the fact it was still not fully implemented after NINE years ( but I'm not sure it can ever be worth the cost.

    Funnily enough Brown wasn't grilled on El Reg's purchasing of the ICT Strategy URL, which shows a spectacular level of incompetence at even the most basic IT level.

  5. Dave Aitken
    Thumb Up

    Gordo hits the nail on the head! Shock Horror Probe

    Our wunnerful gum'ment has got a LONG LONG way to go to even understanding how to procure Information Systems & Services coherently.

    So when will Gordo announce the sacking of the e-gov "Commissioner"?

    Will Gordo understand that this is (I originally capitalised the 'is' - but it made this contribution look like it came from Mars) one area where centralisation of authority (real authority, not just words on paper) actually makes sense. I propose a Cabinet Office Minister, advised by a panel of Accreditors, shall be tasked with an URGENT and comprehensive information architecture review across all Departments; the Senior Information Risk Officer in every department to report to the oversight panel by - say - end of Feb.. Oh! there already is one - young Milliband!

    The coherence of HMG IS must be security-driven, Milliband is nominally in charge of the Central Sponsor of Information Assurance. Time to give the CSIA teeth.

    Outcome: lots more work for me ;-)

  6. Colin Millar

    no one had lost any money

    Well there is us taxpayers who have lost all the money spent on all those pisspoor IT projects

  7. James Pickett

    Not just HMRC

    This item seems to have slipped under the radar:

    I suppose unless GB and co. lose more than 25m sets of personal details, it doesn't count as News any more...

  8. H2Nick

    no one had lost any money - Just shows how they think of tax revenues

    ...did the Royal mail kindly send out the millions of letters notifying the families involved for free then ?

    I expect if you asked you'd get the answer "Oh we don't count that..."

    The BBC reported that an apology letter was sent to 7 million families

    At 24p per stamp, thats £1.68 million.

    Maybe he just thinks we like paying tax for the Govt to spunk away.

  9. Silas

    There's more gone missing!

    See for more info, but the DWP have lost 800 loan applications from the already financially disadvantaged. The applications included "applicants' names, addresses, dates of birth, National Insurance numbers and bank details".

    Like buses, innit?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Dear Mr Brown

    With the greatest of respect, you are a cock.

    Yours Sincerely,

    A long suffering tax payer.

  11. Harry Stottle

    How could he possibly know that no-one's lost any money??

    As I pointed out - briefly - at the time ( if you haven't already read it) any half intelligent attacker is not going to be doing anything easily identifiable lke taking a few hundred quid out of even the most lucrative accounts.

    They'll be creating trivial typical looking withdrawals of between, say, £2 and £5 every few weeks to a few hundred dummy accounts set up for the purpose. The vast majority of account holders will never notice the withdrawals and, even if they do, at that scale, they will tend to ignore them. Perhaps 1 in 100,000 might query the payment. At which rate, it would take the banks, working together, about 5 years before they had enough data even to begin to establish a pattern. It is extremely unlikely, therefore, that we'll EVER know whether or not account holders are losing money. Certainly no politician or bank will ever be in the position to guarantee that "No one has lost any money". (Furthermore, it's extremely unlikely that the withdrawals will start any time soon. They will want the furore to die down and it takes a while to set up the receiving network)

    What this illustrates, in turn, is that neither the Prime Minister nor the committee who were interrogating him have any grasp of the scale of the problem. If they had, they would have come straight back at him with the question: "How can you know that Prime Minister?"

  12. Rob

    John spotted an error in your story....

    "Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted this morning that the government has "a long way to go" to a coherent IT strategy"

    When what you actually meant to type was;

    "Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted this morning that the government has "a long way to go" to being coherent"

    (Alternative proof reading services available at an hourly rate :))

  13. Jim Hague

    So, it's just rules not being followed, eh?

    It's worth while doing what you can to stamp out this doublethink that tries to write the loss off as a procedural problem.

    I tried a letter to my MP calmly explaining that given the junior had access to the whole DB and the monster amount EDS would doubtless have charged for doing anything trivial, the procedural failure was pre-destined by *policy*. Policy, the bit the politicians reckon they are responsible for.

    First time I've got any kind of response indicating he might have taken something on board. I might go so far as vague signs that he (a long-standing Labour trusty) may be beginning to experience a faint inkling that the Home Office Biometric Gospel is a load of cobblers.

  14. Danny Thompson
    Dead Vulture

    As Gordo once said to Tone

    I can never believe anything you tell me. Pot, Kettle, Mr Brown.

    Just when did we as a nation decide to vote in Stalinism? The old fella must be pissing himself laughing. He's got his way with the UK and not a shot had to be fired!

    Back on topic - This Government has long ago set the precedent of being totally inept in handling anything IT at all. They have consistently snatched failure from the hands of success, and all at the taxpayers cost. If they were private industry they would be fit for stacking shelves at the local B&Q only.

    We only get a chance to sack these imbiciles once every four years or so. Let us all hope that the voting public wisen up and get rid of them this time round. I really do not think that the UK can survive another term of this lot in office.

    Dead Vulture selected in lieu of a Dead Duck - a perfect representation of HMG Plc.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's OK Gord I'll tell you whats wrong.

    OK so here is what is wrong with IT and government in respect of security.

    Government come up with a great idea and go to tender, the outsources that have built proper security processes and personell into the bid get rejected because they are to expensive.

    The outsources who get the gig end up having to cut even more services as they originally underquoted anyway. The service that gets cut most is security as it is to expensive and seen as a bit of a blocker.

  16. Slaine

    organ grinder - monkey - you choose

    okay okay - hands up Mr Brown - you are an incompetent baffoon. I had great hopes for you since I too hail from Fife but no - you are an inordinate waste of skin and I disown you.

    HOWEVER - you are not alone. You're entire cabinet are useless. You're entire political party is useless. The opposition to you're useless political party is also useless. The men in grey suits who lurk behind the scenes and never change regardless of which useless political party in in government are [heavily censored] and useless. Quango's are useless, funding in education and health is an embarrassment and every committee derived conclusion is wrong.

    Now then, IF you would like a nice friendly country to live in, to put "Great" back into Britain - stand aside.

    The sky is full of pigs, flying through 100degree snow falling upwards towards a blue moon

    Well, not quite, but I find myself agreeing with William Gates IIIrd and that's a red letter cliche if ever I saw one.

    "computer skills are undervalued" - or in my words... undervalued skills do not attract the required calibre of applicants and result in substandard goals remaining unachieved.

    "Instead, team working and interpersonal skills were seen as the core factors" - arselicking is considered to be of paramount importance.

    result... well, where does one start? How about the bin, might yet uncover those pesky disks eh?

  17. Slaine

    the quiz

    Mr Brown, are you an incompetent baffoon?

    err, no?

    Wrong answer. Let's try that again shall we.Mr Brown, are you an incompetent baffoon?

    err, no?

    Wrong answer. Let's try that again shall we.Mr Brown, are you an incompetent baffoon?

    err, no?

    Wrong answer. Let's try that again shall we.Mr Brown, are you an incompetent baffoon?

    err, no?

    Wrong answer. Let's try that again shall we......

  18. dek

    Slaine said it

    Incompetence is not only limited to the government but combined with endemic complacency in the UK as whole it is or will become lethal. Not so long ago "journalists" use to ask a question and then at least make an attempt to tease an actual answer out of politicians (Paxman where are you now?). Andrew Marr was a compete damp squid when he interviewed Brown a few weeks ago. If the BBC are looking for redundancies they need look no further than Marr as he has clearly proved himself redundant and in that particular case could be replaced with an auto-prompt.

    I have been waiting since the start of the "lost data" saga for someone to actual question the statement "it would have been too expensive to exclude certain data". Staggering! What exactly does it cost these days for a line of SQL? And why has no one used the obvious logical argument that the situation was either systemic or the result of one or several individuals to demonstrated that no data is "safe" and equally applies to ID data? Worse, why are politicians that are clearly IT illiterate making such decisions or even asking each other about the ramifications?!? We all know the answer.

    Back to complacency and it being endemic. I was mildly worried about things like the number of camera's in the UK a few years back but I'm extremely concerned about what now seems to be one on every corner, especially with the plans to hook up to computer recognition systems for face identification and gesture monitoring. Add in ID databases, draconian laws, restrictions on "crowd gathering", excessive so called "discrimination" and "anti-terror" measures and it all looks like a failing political system embedding itself in preparation for an almost guaranteed civil uprising. I use to blame the government for this trend but the longer it is allowed to continue the more the blames falls squarely on us, the general public... those who vote them in and continue to do so.

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