back to article Steria, the MoJ and a £56 MILLION Shared Services write-off

A botched ERP project at the heart of the Ministry of Justice's Shared Services Programme has led to the outsourcing of the back-office functions to Steria – the very company given the original contract to set up the "in-house" systems. Departmental accounts for the MoJ's fiscal '14 ended 31 March reveal the cost of the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm generally loathe to defend the large IT services providers

    But when it comes to public sector IT projects the level of risk involved in bidding and delivering explains why the usual suspects win them despite an apparently atrocious track record.

    Important public sector departments will continue to exist regardless of how inefficiently they run. Civil servants know this, and Sir Humphreyesque empire builders see the kind of efficiency that IT projects drive in the private sector as an outright threat to the budgets and headcount which constitute their authority.

    However, coming out and saying that would obviously be career suicide, and so over a long period of time an 8 step process has arisen to ensure that IT projects actually grow rather than diminish their authority:

    1) Announce a bidding process so complicated and scoring so skewed that only the largest IT giants are able to bid. If a smaller interloper foolishly gets involved and looks like they have any chance of winning then scrap the 6 month process and announce an accelerated retender with a 9 month timeline and stringent rules to dissuade (though never outright disbar) the smaller company from rebidding.

    2) Award the contract to one or sometimes several of the giants, pending a 12 month consultation period to plan the project. At this point the giants will have paid consultants on the job, and know to just shut up and cash the large cheques which follow as the original plan becomes out of date before work even starts.

    3) Either announce that the original scope is now defunct and go back to step 1) or proceed to step 4) which grandly kicks the project off

    5) Gauge progress. If any is being made then make apparently innocuous but in fact fatal changes to the scope. Repeat as many times as necessary to ensure a giant mess ensues.

    6) When 18-24 months have passed after the original project completion date, sit in a room with the heads of the relevant IT giant. Smoke cigars, laugh, whatever and agree with them that if they take the blame for the failure they'll win the next project that comes their way. If they refuse then blame them anyway and disbar them from any future government work.

    7) Blame the contractor. Have them look sheepish. Go back to your empire which has grown by a 'temporary' 10% staff increase to clear up the mess that the IT giant 'caused'.

    8) Wait until the next government comes in with plans to increase government IT efficiency. Begin from step 1.

  2. El_Fev

    There is a simple reason that they keep winning time and time again...


    1. netean

      Re: There is a simple reason that they keep winning time and time again...

      I disagree, it's not corruption. I used to work within MoJ IT and it's actually the opposite. People are terrified to do or say anything that may give even the tiniest idea of a glimmer of an corruption. The service is crippled by the fear that it won't be seen to be whiter than white. No one wants to take the blame so no one will make a decision, hence why it's only within the last year than they've finally had the go ahead to "upgrade" from IE6 as the sole desktop web browser and have no plans to upgrade from XP.

      Any change that happens to the MoJ IT is pushed upon from outside.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another botched IT programme

    With more "fail" to be delivered by the same people under outsourcing.

    The three genuine rationales for outsourcing are where the outsourcing organisation doesn't have the competency to do the function in the first place, where it doesn't have the scale to do so efficiently, or where the organisation can gain greater advantage by deploying resources elsewhere.

    Clearly the MoJ had the competency in the first place, as they were already doing it. At 90,000 employees they have sufficient scale to do it efficiently in house (they could have been efficient even with four centres doing the processing, because the economies of going from 22,000 employees to 90,000 are pretty small). And as the MoJ are an administrative organisation themselves, there's no evidence that they could deliver better value from the resources freed up by outsourcing.

    Why are the civil service management such complete idiots?

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Brilliant plan. The people who f**ked up the *internal* implementation now outsource it.

    What could possibly go wrong with such a plan?

  5. Winkypop Silver badge

    Shared Services

    Shit Services

    These types of bean-counter wet dreams rarely work as planned/promised/budgeted.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ministry Of Justice Status ..

  7. hoola Silver badge

    Hmm..... win some and, oh win some!

    Some you win and some you lose, I think not, yet another slimy backhanded deal going on somewhere. The only loses here are the taxThere companies, Captia, ATOS, CapGemini simply cannot lose whatever they do. The eBoarders is another case, the screw up, lose the contract and then sue for not far off the value of the contract. And at the smae time they will be shafting some other public body. The current situation where a small number of huge comglomerates basically own the government is a joke. The only people to blame are the politicians that allowed it to happen. Now that is going to go nowhere as they have probably all personally benefitted from the deals in some way.

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