back to article Tories would take an axe to Labour IT policy

In a speech to the Conservative Conference in Manchester yesterday, shadow Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announced that he will be leading a review of government IT. In this, he will be aided by Tom Steinberg, co-author of the independent Cabinet Office review, "The Power of Information". He said: "We need a …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Occam's razor.

    "We want to move some big contracts from their mates to our mates."

    Or have I missed something?

  2. NB

    I, for one..

    welcome our new, blue tie wearing, overlords!

  3. nichomach
    Thumb Up

    Mandatory title

    "where a supplier recklessly contracted to provide a service that was unlawful – perhaps in terms of data protection principles - penalty clauses may be resisted."

    It's a fair point; you can't have a valid contract to do an unlawful thing.

  4. M E H

    Stating the obvious

    "It may sound obvious, but best consultancy practice nowadays recognises that sometimes the most effective ideas come not from senior management, but from those working on the shop floor."


    How about - "usually"?

    And how long has it taken management consultants to realise that the people who do a job day to day are the ones most aware of the problems, issues and what could be done to resolve them? Something the Japanese have been aware of for decades.

  5. Bassey

    Sounds like the same thing

    So they're promising to do exactly what Labour have been promising to do and in a sodding expensive way. "Giving people ownership of the data" might sound wonderfully empowering etc. but A) most people don't give a shit about owning their own data (they just want to be able to trust the people that have it) and B) "Empowering" usually means trying to provide some kind of secure access over the internet - which immediately rules out the poor and the elderly and opens up a whole new layer of attack surfaces, complexity, expense etc. etc.

    Forget "Getting Britain Working". It should be;

    "Conservatives: Same shit, different coloured tie".

  6. dunncha
    Thumb Up

    Suddenly I see

    12 years out of Government and suddenly we can see how to make the world a happy smiley place again.

    We won't waste money, we will make everything right again.

    Easier said than done.

    I'm Voting for the Lib Dems. Their biggest expense was a packet of Chocolate Hobnobs - Tory expenses? Where would you start to talk about the bending of the rules and once in power these rules can be bend even more.

  7. The Other Steve
    Big Brother

    What nicomach said, only more so

    "where a supplier recklessly contracted to provide a service that was unlawful ... penalty clauses may be resistedl"

    Fuck "resisted", unlawful activities can not constitute valid consideration in a contract, and no contract including them is considered to be valid. Such a contract would be unenforceable in it's entirety. You can write whatever clause you like, and it means zip.

    It may take court action to prove this is so on a contract by contract basis, but most of the costs of that would ultimately be borne by the party attempting to enforce such a contract when they get their sorry asses laughed out of court.

    In theory.

  8. Fenton

    Public sector and IT

    Having done some contracts for the public sector and private. There is a huge difference.

    In the private sector as a consultant I and my private sector co-workers are empowered to make decisisions (that is what we are paid for).

    In the public sector, nobody is allowed to make any decisions of any kind. They are then made by commity by people who do not have a clue.

    Government IT does need a complete overall.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT is more than just surveillance

    it is the datastores of personal information and human tracking that people object to.

    IT should be used throughout government and the public sector, not to track people, but to reduce costs and to fire a lot of the parasites (administration and management).

    IT is just a tool it can be used for good or bad, but it is the most effective knowledge tool we have.

    Labour the party that stands for Torture and Surveillance have abused IT, so yes most of their projects should be canned.

  10. John 211

    "giving people ownership of the data"

    Perhaps they could start with usage of the RM postcode database.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Stating the obvious

    "how long has it taken management consultants to realise that the people who do a job day to day are the ones most aware of the problems, issues and what could be done to resolve them?"

    As long as there were funds available for studies that kept *them* in place making rediculous amounts of money..

    Any other questions I can help with?

  12. Elmer Phud

    Must have paid off the old contracts

    I'm sure the NHS IT fiasco has been going on a lot longer than since we got T.B. as Glorious Leader and Saviour of Mankind.

    All those teams of consultants and IT firms that did bugger all work and cost us millions must have finally been paid off - along with their termination payments and guaranteed bonuses and grants.

    The Tory model is to have everything outsourced (once we've paid for it to be developed) and then rent it all back again, either from their mates or from some foriegn company.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Charlie Brown

    Reading the story reminded me of how the adults on Charlie Brown sounded.....wahhh wa, wahhaaa, whaaaa waa...then end.

  14. Skrrp

    Government IT does need an overhaul

    Year: 2009

    New systems: Win XP

    Security: Laughable

    Browser: IE 6

    XSS protection: none

    Personally click-jacked in a sensitive environment: You betcha

  15. Richard 12 Silver badge

    @Elmer Phudd

    As opposed to the Labour model, which is to outsource the entire country's infrastructure (schools, hospital buildings and parking etc), then rent it back at extortionate rates, and finally pay the company a subsidy because they aren't making enough profit yet.

    Except that they call it 'investment'.

  16. Martin Gregorie

    @ M E H

    Spot on, that man.

    Back in 1968 we were taught that the analyst should get the system scope from the bosses and then talk exhaustively to the workers/intended users to find out what the new system had to do, why and how it should do what its users perceived it should do. It was well-known then that the bosses knew stuff-all about what the job was really about and could be safely ignored on that subject, but you'd best understand what the workers actually did and implement a system to support them.

    Any system that isn't designed with this principle in mind is very likely to be yet another expensive failure.

  17. Paul 5

    Why not bill the cabinet for the colossal waste?

    If the current administration signed contracts that were unreasonably expensive and wasteful, and in addition had the sort of lock-in clauses described, is there any way that they can be individually and personally surcharged - just as local councillors who wasted money (by selling houses cheap to their mates, for example) have been?

  18. Mathew White

    /cry with happyness

    <sob> Im so...<sob> happy <sniff> these are tears <hankey> or joy <sniff>

    Then again, these are pre manifesto promises from politicians, politicians!, so take the eventual implementation with a big ben sized pinch of salt.

    But I'm cautiously optimistic that we will see a move from the monolithic contracts that are in place and so often fail so badly where a more modular approach to projects would serve better.

  19. Graham Marsden

    data sharing should happen not "because it can"...

    ... but only where it is wholly necessary.

    FIne words, but will they keep to them? When "necessary" becomes "necessary to stop terrorism or crime or benefit fraud or uninsured drivers..." they'll be no better than the current idiots.

  20. Lloyd

    Hold on now

    Are you saying Labour had an IT policy? I thought it was simply an Easter egg hunt on Network Rail with laptops instead of eggs?

  21. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Those quotes contain enough material for a great game of "Wank Words Bingo"

  22. Juillen 1

    The key to this..

    Is the requisite adherence to open standards..

    The Tories are generally known for not really caring too much about the social niceties, but they do like the business and commercial sectors to grow in a proper fashion (i.e. competition, and letting the businessmen, not necessarily the MBAs, prosper).

    When you open up the field, a lot of small business grows. Small business is local in the main in various areas of the country. You can't predict where it'll start up, but when it gets the job done, it's usually versatile, and gives good bang for the bucks.

    Also, for the NHS IT project, there are some damnably good skills in house that are just not allowed to touch anywhere near the main project system, and are having to introduce workarounds to keep local systems running. All of which costs extra money.

    What I expect from the tories is saying "Here's the world. Make your mark. Don't expect me to hold your hand when it hurts though". Rather than NuLab's "Here's the world. I'll hold your hand and keep you safe from everything. And I'll never let go of your hand, so you go where I want you to. Because it's safe, really. We know what's best.".

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Stating the obvious

    The staff on the shop floor are completely the WRONG people to ask! You ask 20 different people the same question, or ask them to explain a business process that's used across numerous offices in the same department throughout the country and you'll get 20 different answers. The problem is that staff frequently think they know better, when in fact they simply don't - they just have a way of doing things that has manifested itself over many years.

  24. Paul Chapman


    "I'm Voting for the Lib Dems. Their biggest expense was a packet of Chocolate Hobnobs"

    Perhaps they were just more disciplined in exploiting them?

  25. Chika


    RM postcode area? I know the place is a shithole, but why single one shithole out? There's plenty to choose from!

  26. John G Imrie
    Big Brother

    Re: Why not bill the cabinet for the colossal waste?

    Two points to note here.

    Pro. No UK Government can tie the hands of the next government. So the new Government can simply rule the contracts unlawful.

    Against. Do you really think any Government would sue the previous Cabinet when they know that at some point down the line they will be the previous Cabinet.

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