back to article Met at 'huge risk' of botching its Sopra Steria outsourcing contract

Plans by the Metropolitan Police to outsource its IT and shunt 445 staff out of the capital via a 10-year £216m mega deal with Sopra Steria present "huge risks", a report by London's spending watchdog has warned. Last month the force announced that from October 2016 its tech services will move over to the Shared Services …

  1. chris 17 Silver badge

    its like watching a car crash in slow motion. Everyone knows it'll be cheaper to not out source.

    1. phil dude


      if it is not your car, and you are not in it, and noone you know is involved, it is fascinating click-bait. Just look at youtube....

      This is government spending 101. You only need to *look* as if you are doing something, not even competently.

      The problem is that the taxpayers of London will be paying with a less efficient police service...


    2. h4rm0ny

      Well yes, but it's not about saving money. It's about two very important things. Funnelling money to mates in the private sector (I have no evidence of this but I don't see why it would be any different to the NHS - please correct me if they really are lilly-white in this instance as, unlike the Met, I'll actually backtrack if it turns out I've nicked the wrong suspect). Secondly, and this could be even more important, it will give all the people in charge a bit of paper that says when it all goes tits up, it's the fault of that terrible private sector company, not theirs anymore.

    3. asdf

      UK IT government projects

      >its like watching a car crash in slow motion

      Over a decade reading this web site and the stream of UK government IT contract fail articles is as endless as AO/LP climate articles. Pretty amazing how good the UK government is at it. The US government meanwhile tends to save its epic fails for the defense/security projects like the billion dollar virtual border fence pork to Boeing that never worked. As well as the mother of all epic project fails the F-35 which is going to cost more than every UK IT government project ever and going forward probably in my lifetime.

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        F-35 which is going to cost more

        Don't all aircraft do that. They ended up with the tornado and we got the lightning- or rather its predecessor. (Yes I know we could have had a swing wing TSR 2 but that was an idea by a down on his luck ex-RAF type who was clearly off his trolley after giving Rover his new car engine.)

        By the way the need for a replacement for the Tornado was no-need by the end of the war of the clods.

        1. asdf

          Re: F-35 which is going to cost more

          >Don't all aircraft do that.

          A weapons program cost over a trillion dollars? The Space Shuttles I don't think even cost that much over their lifetime (including mission costs) even adjusted for inflation. Also most of the time the aircraft built 25+ years after the ones they are replacing are generally better. But yes weapons programs tend to cost more than IT projects (though admittedly there is a huge amount of IT cost in modern weapon programs) because we always seem to be able to find the money to kill brown people.

          1. Brian Allan 1

            Re: F-35 which is going to cost more

            Yes, but governments always find money to pay for $700 toilet seats and such... It's called the taxpayer!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    60K per IT bod

    Based on figures in article, assuming costs are correct from Met (i.e. included costs such as employer NI, pension contribs etc.) then (esp when higher paid contractors in the mix and factoring in pay needed to keep staff in London) then an outsourcing deal is not going to make much difference (unless massive staff cuts / lots of outsourcing to v. cheap places) as that is lower per head than I would have guessed..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 60K per IT bod

      Steria India's pay scales are reported on wage comparison web sites, and mid point for a basic "software engineer" is about 500,000 Rs which translates to about £5k. That's a lot cheaper than the implied average gross pay of £45k that the figures quoted mention.

      Of course, by outsourcing to Steria, and by Steria funneling the work to illiterate, non-English speaking beggars in India (who'll spend 11 months in the job), the public sector hopes to avoid those inconveniences that they have mandated for UK employers, like NI, mandatory pension enrolment, minimium and in future "living" wage, high energy costs etc etc.

      We all know it's going to end in tears (but only for the taxpayer).

    2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects


      > outsourcing deal is not going to make much difference (unless massive staff cuts / lots of outsourcing to v. cheap places)

      You mean India, they mean Syria.

      The question of which is the better at garbage disposal is one of government interests vs private sector interests. India is the centre of the Indian Ocean Garbage Patch. (according to an anonymous coward on TED Talk.) Syria OTOH.....

      Well... get used to it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A suggestion.

    I propose they take the people that could fix the mess, and deny them jobs on the grounds of clearance.

    Though, joking aside, because that could never happen, because HR are professional enough to accept that IT staff have different views on feminism to them, and would be able to do what's best for the force in spite of their opinion. So, with that in mind, how many other people are asking themselves the immortal question...

    "What could possibly go wrong with this deal?"

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      are the people in Steria British nationals - can Steria guarantee this ?.

      No, and no. Steria is a French company, but under the various idiotic free trade agreements that the British government have signed, there's little they can or will do to ensure that the work stays in the UK.

      I know that they use offshore people a lot - as it is cheaper.

      No, the oiks just get paid less. Lower factor productivity and the need of the vendor to recover the vast amounts of goodwill on their balance sheets (plus backloaded offers, aborted bid costs etc) mean that the savings of offshoring are illusory.

      Why are no UK with UK based firms being asked to tender ?

      It will have been publicly tendered. But anybody competent and with any sense of ethics wouldn't touch it, because they'll know that the desired savings can't be delivered for the client. Meanwhile, the buyer will listen to the snake oil salesmen explaining how much they can save by an efficient mixed sourcing model, and believe the lies. Why bid for a contract that you won't win? So long as the public sector rewards and encourages poor procurement practice, and fails to brutally punish failing suppliers, they guarantee that they'll always be taken for a ride.

      how safe is the data that will be managed by the contract ?.

      The outsourcer will promise whatever is required to secure the deal. But as UK newspapers found out some years ago, what a salesmen promises in the UK means nothing when you offer a few crisp notes to poorly paid offshore employees.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Get your facts right...

        Yes, Sopra Steria is a French company.

        But UK arm that will do the work in the UK is what's left of Xansa, a UK IS company. So the people working on this project will be brits, but yes most likely with a lot of outsourcing to India, but also with a lot UK contractors too.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    It's not like the ISSC2 deal with Steria is going well, or anything!

  6. getHandle
    Thumb Down

    I don't get it

    It's almost like these big outsourcing companies aren't there to deliver good results, on-time, on-budget and fulfilling the reqs. It's almost like they're, I dunno, just trying to screw the taxpayer for every last penny they can get out of them...

  7. JimRoyal

    And before then?

    Of course the other point is what happens between now and October next year? With the uncertainty of the future I would think that many of the best people would leave. The Met would then find it difficult to recruit replacements. So they would fall back on contractors, which will increase their staffing costs over the next year.

    Please note, this is not a cynical view, it is exactly what I have observed at another organisation in a very similar position recently.

  8. TwoWolves


    I have had some experience of working with Steria. Utterly incompetent, everything takes months and they deliver the wrong thing even when its a simple shopping list - verbatim.

    They employ a lot of recent migrants which makes me worry about security.

    I just don't understand why they are using them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Incompetent

      going to agree with you, we have to work with them and it's a Fucking headache every single time !

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Incompetent

      Ahh.... the H1B thing, English-style.

      In the US we have the phenomenon of all the H1B work visas being monopolized by a cartel of Indian companies who do software outsourcing and the like. We end up with weird situations like the IT employees at Southern California Edison (an electricity utility) being laid off because they're being replaced by low cost Indian contract staff (...except that they have to stick around and train their replacements). This isn't just immoral and impractical, it actually breaks immigration law -- you're not supposed to hire low cost immigrant replacements for local labor -- but when it comes to corporations and money laws and morals seem to be irrelevant inconveniences.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem for the Met and similar large organisations is they simply don't have a clue (I could be kind and call it experience) about how to price or manage major outsource contracts. They like large outsource suppliers because they feel that there is lots of additional backup and resource available (and other people to blame!) if things go wrong. Outsource companies love it too because they can smell inefficient from a mile away and know that means fat profit margins for the next 10 years made even fatter by a customer that will almost certainly keep changing the goal posts in ways that further improve the bottom line. They also know that even if there are any nasty penalty clauses within the contact its pretty unlikely they will used against them if they do fall short of the service promised.

    As a rule of thumb whatever the headline figure for the contract is, halve it to work out how much it would have cost in the private sector for a similar level of support.

    Alternatively just double the published figure 216 million to find out how much will be handed over in those 10 years once all the unforeseen and additional costs are added to the contract.

    I can see why the London Assembly's Budget and Performance Committee is getting concerned!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm the staff will need to be NPPV (Presumably level 3 with SC) and the Met have their own clearance process on top so I'm guessing going out to India will be out.

    From memory you need to be a UK resident for 2-3 years (might be EU) to get NPPV .

  11. Trad3r

    Time and time again...

    I really hope that this works for the Met Police but history isn't with them.

    There are so many examples in government where this approach has delivered poor and ultimately excessively expensive services.

    The National Crime Agency is a recent and relevant example of an IT outsourcing 'partnership' that has turned utterly bitter, leaving the agency with old, inadequate systems and little hope in sight of a remedy. No matter what spin is trotted out by ministers, the NCA is failing to have any noticeable impact on really serious criminality and that is hugely influenced by their ancient and often unsupportable kit.

    Surely the Met has spoken to agencies such as the NCA and worked out that the described approached is flawed?

  12. Brian Allan 1

    Outsourcing essential and critical services is NEVER a good idea! Having internal services and control is crucial!

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