back to article ‘Digital by default’ agricultural payments halted: Farmers start smirking

On Friday its was revealed that the new "digital by default" payments system for Common Agricultural Payments has been put on ice, with farmers having to go back to a paper-based system. Sources have told The Register that the system costs could have now escalated to £177m, with that figure likely to increase further. The …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "they've [sic]", "They're [sic]", "them [sic]", "them [sic]"

    can someone cleverer than myself let me in on the joke? why are these terms bein'g SIC'ed? Is it because he keeps refering to a group that he is a member of as if they are a group he is not a member of?

    or is it just turtles all the way down?

    1. Anonymous IV

      > "they've [sic]", "They're [sic]", "them [sic]", "them [sic]"

      I assume that the attemptedly-pedantic author of the article thinks that the singular form should be used when referring to the Rural Payments Agency, not the plural. I would say that the point is moot. It is quite possible to refer to an organisation as an "it" or a "them".

      1. Stuart Moore

        Frankly that sort of pedantry makes me [sic]

    2. Fungus Bob

      "can someone cleverer than myself let me in on the joke?"

      No, because the joke is that you're not in on the joke.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why the FUCK does every noddy government IT project always end up pissing hundreds of millions of taxpayers money up the wall? And still end in failure? What is so fucking hard about this pattern:

    1) take some information from somebody

    2) store it

    3) calculate something with it

    4) issue a payment

    This isn't rocket science. It's EXACTLY THE SAME FUCKING THING that hundreds of other government IT systems do.

    Look. Just pay me £10 million and I'll have it figured it out for you.

    1. theblackhand

      Re: WHY?

      You'll never fail to complete a £10 million project, better make it £100 million.

      You'll still save the taxpayer £77 million....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WHY?

      Want to know how?

      Get 5 briefcases. Fill each with £1 million in bank notes. Hire an office in Shoreditch. Start interviewing people. At the interview, slap the briefcase down on table, and tell this prospective developer that, if they work non-stop for the next few months implementing this noddy webapp to take some details of farmers fields, applies the EU payment rules, and issues and tracks payments, that will be their bonus. Pick the 5 smartest and competent ones. Let them loose on it, with those briefcases in a locked glass vault in the middle of the office.

      I get to keep the other £5 million.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: WHY?

        There's a Steve Martin routine in there somewhere...

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: WHY Shoreditch?

        I'd prefer Southampton and Croydon for a bit of joined up government. One of the challenges seems to have been mapping elements. So GIS. So Ordnance Survey and Land Registry. So hopefully one knows where it is, the other who owns it. Then RPA can add attributes to polygons showing what it's used for and how much to pay out. If £177m has been spent, I suspect a certain amount of wheel reinvention occurred. Then again, given how much OS charge for map data, it could be wooden dollars circulating between government pots.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Hurray, it's agile!

    It doesn't work, the end users are doing nothing but complaining, but it's agile!

    1. getHandle

      Re: Hurray, it's agile!

      Fail fast, fail often, deliver shit.

      1. John Miles

        Re: Fail fast, fail often, deliver shit.

        Makes a change from normal Government IT delivery approach

        Fail, Be very late, deliver shit.

  4. The last doughnut

    From his reported comments it seems like the man in charge was being supplied with an air-laughing gas mixture.

    1. PNGuinn

      I can think of more appropriate gasses.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Straw-chewing yokels say...

    Ooh arr, we ain't be doing with them compewturrs an' thaaat!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Straw-chewing yokels say...

      Excuse me! Out here in the countryside, things have progressed much further than you might think. In the last few years we've started to treat electricity with suspicion, rather than fear. In the icon, that's not my coat, it's my smock.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Straw-chewing yokels say...

      I once employed as a programmer a dairy farmer's wife who installed and set up an IBM S/360 to automate the farm backend processes. Just saying.

    3. Chris G

      Re: Straw-chewing yokels say...

      Anyone who has a qualification from an agricultural college or a degree in agriculture is probably more able and qualified in more subjects than you can shake a stick at.

      I know a few farmers and they all use a PC for most of the day to day running of the farm like any business and most crop growers use sattelite crop management; it's the Agile crap that doesn't work and that is being foisted on them that they don't like.

      I wonder if Mike Bracken ever spoke to a real farmer as opposed to representatives from some of the big corporates like Co-op farming or Blade?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Why I'm so excited about that is because they've [sic] embraced agile completely. They're [sic] going with an agile build out of a whole new programme."

    That would have set off the alarm bells for anybody with a modicum of understanding of what they were doing.

    1. Anonymous IV

      It seems that the so-called "Agile" methodology was first introduced as long ago as 2001.

      The BBC's Digital Media Initiative, scrapped at a cost of nearly £100m, also used Agile.

      This seems to be another "solves all possible problems" mechanism which would appear to work well on paper but whose implementation can be quite disastrous.

  7. Daniel von Asmuth

    Those Brits are ahead of us

    Agricultural deals in Holland are still handshake-based rather than paper-based.

  8. beanbasher

    Oh Dear

    How long after the Tories get kick out at the election before Universal Credit also crashes and burns and the other parties toss that bag of sh*t in the bin.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Oh Dear

      I've got two pieces of news for you.

      1. Whoever you vote for you still end up with a politician.

      2. Whoever you vote for you still end up with the same Civil Service.

  9. earl grey

    Picture is NSFW

    And, it's giving the missus ideas.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Picture is NSFW

      NSFW? Not in a vet's or on a farm, that's just everyday life.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    As any farmer will tell you

    Bracken is an invasive weed.

  11. Nick Kew


    The BBC were telling this story long before you.

  12. David Roberts


    Is this the same as showing a proof of concept weekend hack to marketing and finding it launched as a "product" two weeks later?

  13. Tim Almond


    My answer to "do you know agile?" is "what do you mean by agile?".

    It's a meaningless buzzword, covering everything from well-managed, reasonably well-specified solutions with rapid prototyping and rapid releases and a strong emphasis on automated unit testing, to "throw it live and hope".

    The thing this clearly failed on, one of the most valuable aspects of agile, is rapid prototyping. One of the drivers of agile over waterfall is rapid prototyping - the users get to see the system as early as possible and continue to be involved during the development stage. And that's the real end users, not some bureaucrat, but the poor sods that have to use your digital disaster.

    But, hey, it's not their money. No-one will get fired for this.

  14. BillDarblay

    How, in the name of Sweet Jesus

    do they manage to spend nearly £200 million on a website?

    It's a Mafia State.

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