back to article Need reminding how troubled Universal Credit is? MPA puts it in special 'reset' category

Iain Duncan Smith's massively troubled Universal Credit system is so deep in the toilet - according to the government's Major Projects Authority - that it's not even worthy of being flagged with a "red" warning anymore. The Department for Work and Pensions has made such a hash of the huge benefits' reform scheme – which has …


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  1. Chad H.

    I dont understand what is so screwed up with this project....

    I volunteered in a CAB for a while, and spoke to the benefits expert (laid off jobcetnre worker would you believe it), and in theory universal credit makes logical sense. One benefit with bolt on extras rather than half a bajillion different potential benefits.... Seems like something the phone company does, but in reverse.

    I dont understand what is so hard about it systemwise... anyone clue me in?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Accenture, Atos Origin, Oracle, Red Hat, CACI and IBM.........

      Edit: Oh, and a cacophony of civil servants and other random Whitehall staff, along with a Cabinet Minister who was out of his depth (well, aren't they all) when it comes to major IT projects).

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Plus using it as an excuse to shrink the social security budget, thus alienating the people who would, um, benefit.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Duncan Smith would be out of his depth in a single raindrop.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        All of those are crap except Red Hat. Poor fella.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What could possibly go wrong?

      Some of the many, many, many problems with the project:

      1. Govt was taking responsibility for integrating the systems and suppliers together as the big consultancies were ripping them off doing this type of work. The govt clearly has lots of experience in successfully delivering large scale IT projects pulling lots of complex IT together from lots of suppliers. So no one SI to rule them all, lots of smaller chunks of work from companies who are far more experienced at very, very clearly defining what their responsibilities were and making dammed sure that the govt or any other SI couldn't shaft them.

      2. Requirements that were pulled out of someones arse and constantly changed as govt realised they got it wrong. Well since the govt is the prime contractor they bear the costs and the responsibility. Welcome to the big boys and what risk management is all about :)

      3. Cabinet Office sticking their nose in and dictating Agile development. Then Cabinet Office legging it as fast as they could when that didn't work and leaving the team on the ground to take the blame.

      4. Unclear leadership at the top. IDS is not, lets be polite, the sharpest IT mind in the govt. Shouting and ranting at civil servants may look good in the press but doesn't really endear him to them and get them to pull the stops out to deliver.

      5. A succession of govt delivery leads who promise lots and then realise the utter dungheap of a project they are trying to deliver.

      Mind you, you could take this list and apply it to most govt projects now and in the future.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Chad H.

        Re: What could possibly go wrong?

        So basically it comes down to... people who dont know what they're doing trying to take charge... :(

        I guess thats what we have to expect with our X-Factor system of government

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: what is so hard

      Oh dear, where do I begin.

      Just a selection then.

      - conceived and designed by the previous government that was so keen to push as much money away to private entities for their own later job security that actually *delivering* something was usually more by accident

      - involved large consultancies without much checking if they were actually doing something instead of sitting on their hands (anyone who was near the ID card project knows full well what I mean)

      - apropos consultancies, there was this intesting coincidence of a very well known software supplier offering consultants at day rates of £1200 above, and recruiting contractors abroad for up to €600 for the same roles, thus grabbing the lowest paid people on the market. The mind boggles at what an astonishing coincidence that was for those two events to happen simultaneously. If those events *were* related, however, it could explain the frankly appaling quality of their work. The word "abysmal" readily springs to mind.

      - allowing chance control charges to be levied without making those responsible for the initial scoping and design picking up those costs (so they pretty much wrote what they wanted, came in as lowest bidder and then clawed back more than the highest bidder in change request fees - a trick that is pretty much standard in any MoD procurement process)

      - the *cough* "pace" at DWP must be experienced to be believed. They work at the pace of a snail crawling over a salt lick. If you have worked there for more than a few weeks you will consider glaciers fast moving objects. This was a while back, so may have changed.

      So there.

    4. Cirret

      It can't help that it's run by the famously incompetent Smith - in a culture of faith-based evidence, concealment of failure, obliviousness to criticism, and persecuting the messenger - on behalf of people who hate claimants, and funded by Osborne, who evidently hates anyone without a few spare million in their back pocket and runs the economy accordingly. Why would you expect any better?

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge


    "The "reset" category has been applied to the Universal Credit project."

    Perhaps at the next election the public would be good enough to press the "reset" button on IDS.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Maybe just power him down for the final time and decommission him, like we're doing with all our old XP machines. Maybe IDS could actually find some use as a doorstop, or we could de-solder him and make him into novelty mouse mats?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        "Maybe IDS could actually find some use as a doorstop, or we could de-solder him and make him into novelty mouse mats?"

        Or perhaps a new life as an "Idiocy Demonstration System".

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: So...

          A new life? Isn't that what he already does?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So...

            Pretty sure he's currently being patched to permit migration from his current role as an idiocy denial system.

    2. SMabille

      Re: So...

      I would prefer the "Eject" button (or Shift-Delete), not really looking forward to the "IDS Rebooted" sequel....

  3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Almsot Kafka-esque

    So... It's a huge shambles, but the plug can't be pulled, because IDS won't allow anyone to know exactly how much of a shambles it actually is.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Almsot Kafka-esque

      What's IDS got on Cameron?

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The author of the article obviously does not know the expanation

    There is a clear and well known explanation on why pessimistic reports are not allowed to be be published.

    There is an old Soviet Union joke:

    What is a pessimist - a well informed optimist

    What is an optimist - a well instructed pessimist

    So how, do you, journalist **** dare requesting the publishing of information that has not been a product of appropriate polishing and intstruction?

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: The author of the article obviously does not know the expanation

      It has not been published because it would not be 'politically correct' to do so. In the original Soviet sense of the term.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: The author of the article obviously does not know the expanation

      Semantics have been at the center of this whole mess since the beginning. Had they kept their 'imaginative optimism' under control it wouldn't have helped save the project. But maybe it could have saved the careers of some of the people caught in the middle of a bunch of idiots making stupid decisions. When things are unsettled it's really bad practice to set expectations that can't be met. You can't recover from that.

  5. All names Taken

    Foregone conclusion?


    This is what happens when politicians impose change on Whitehall that Whitehall does not want, wish or bring into existence?

    It was a fail straight from the start and what is now likely is Whitehall's preferred methods will now come to the rescue, save guvmints and Ministers from embarrassment chuckling strongly as the cuckolding rolls on regardless?


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    …the digital DG at the DWP is having trouble remembering women’s names.

    1. frank ly

      Re: Meanwhile...

      “It’s things like not confusing Eileen with Elaine.”

      Whereas Dan, Dave, Don, Dick, Dom and Doug are so memorably different.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meanwhile...

        His own surname is fairly memorable. Cunnington. You'd think he wouldn't have that much trouble with lady names.

  7. Frankee Llonnygog

    Can we make sure to ...

    apportion large amounts of blame to the Cabinet Office and the Government Digital Service? It doesn't have to be a fair amount, just very large. It's also OK if the total amount of blame apportioned to all & sundry adds up to, say, 1100%

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can we make sure to ...

      Actually, no. They have been the first in almost 2 decades to stand up to Microsoft by proposing a different default document format. For someone in the political arena, that takes large brass balls, so for me they have quite a bit of goodwill built up there.

      Not because I'm anti-Mcrosoft per se, but anti money-milking monopoly.

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Can we make sure to ...

        Not even for being years late with the Digital Identity needed to make UC work? For centralising and politicising Governmental online comms? For claiming credit for initiatives that they had naff all to do with? For never actually delivering anything? Apart from press releases, that is

  8. All names Taken

    To be fair 2 IDS

    A Minister does not need to be an expert in a particular field and is supposed to be a commoner (but there is a trend to make election to MP sort of akin to having the holiness of a Pope) and the commoner is there to give strategic overview of where things should go.

    I suppose IDS said something like:

    IDS: Right! straighten up this confusing mess. Who put the benefits system in such a mess anyway?

    PPS: You did Minister - or at least your elected colleagues in guvmints past.

    And the Minister is expected to get support needed to do the job - trouble is Whitehall has monopolised all of that.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: To be fair 2 IDS

      "To be fair 2 IDS"


  9. Scroticus Canis

    Optimistic lack of black in the colour rating

    Red - bleeding, amber - suppurating, green - gangrenous rot, black - dead as a dodo.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Optimistic lack of black in the colour rating

      I have exactly zero desire to be briefed on the implications of a brown alert.

  10. Alex G


    Best Iain Duncan Smith quote:

    "this country is not cutting welfare, it is managing the growth at a lower level"

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