back to article Capita STILL hasn't delivered usable Army recruitment IT system

Infamous IT bungler Capita still hasn't delivered usable ICT systems for British Army recruitment, despite signing the contract to do so five years ago, it emerged in Parliament on Tuesday. Crapita Capita has a contract with the Ministry of Defence, the Recruitment Partnering Project, which was signed for £1.3bn in 2012 to …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "I want to see it next year"

    And I want to win the lottery next week.

    Let's see which of us gets theirs first. Any bets ?

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: "I want to see it next year"

      I dunno, I wouldn't be surprised if Crapita bought out the lottery to stop just that.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking from experience

    As a reservist, I joined just after Capita took over. It's not just the IT systems that are crap... Having gone through the exact same process a few years prior with the same unit whilst they still handled their own recruitment, it would appear it's definitely Capita that's the problem.

    The medical process alone changed 3 times during the time from my initial application to starting training...

    Who'd have thought?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Speaking from experience

      Don't feel too hard done by. I work in the private sector for a large German owned utility, and our recruitment systems and processes are also entirely shit, delivering a service hated by its victims, doing nothing for recruiting managers.

      In fact, I'm currently in a job different to the one I applied for, on terms that I'd not have bothered to accept, but they just changed them without even giving me the opportunity to say "no". Apparently the derisory pay rise is supposed to make it worth my while.

      Going back to the Army's problems, I suppose it is inevitable that you'd have a critical mass of incompetence when you consider mixing such doom-laden concepts as HR, IT, outsourcing, government procurement, and Crapita. Individually you expect these to not work, combine them and you create a sort of negative singularity.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Speaking from experience

        combine them and you create a sort of negative singularity.

        An ever-expanding white hole made of burning taxpayers' money.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Speaking from experience

      I recall giving a presentation at a conference and someone in the audience asked a question about integrating with a Capita project. I off-handledly described Capita as a "a rolling disaster" and half the audience spontaneously broke into applause. I wasn't trying to be funny or dramatic, it was just a matter of fact statement. Clearly it resonated though.

      I am sure there are some hard-working engineers at Capita. I suspect they spend most of their day pleading for better requirements or adequate resources. Or else just browsing job sites.

  3. kyndair

    serious question - Have they ever delivered a system on time and on or under budget?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      crapita

      No.

      However, like the rest of the oversized, parasitic big integrators/consultancies, incompetence never seems to stop them winning work. They all make huge profits while spectacularly failing to deliver.

      Its even more fun when its public sector contracts because then everyone just says how crap the public sector is and how much better it would be if everything was privatised to the likes of Capita and Serco.....

      1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

        Re: crapita

        still, I don't think they're killing people, unlike G4S.

    2. gv

      System delivery

      It's probably because they have a team of solution and technical architects dealing with the customer requirements and then offshore the development to keep the cost down and the profit up. Undoubtedly there are a number of customer relationship managers in there as well.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: System delivery

        Douglas Adams' visionary writing is coming true - the Golgafrinchans walk amongst us and are now called Crapita...

        1. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

          Re: System delivery

          Ermmm. Aren't they the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. How big is their complaints department?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: System delivery

        Offshore developers are rarely the issue as long as they are treated as a pure subcontractor (in-house or not) however it is necessary to apply as rigorous quality management processes as your your customer will (or should). This overhead usually means that offshore is not a cost reduction but for resource only and may indeed cost more due to quality assurance overheads. Unfortunately most companies 'sell' offshore on price only. GIGO has a price especially when the customer often does not know his own mind either. Change control rules and has a cost and a duration. I’ve seen too many contacts that have implicit 'all the change you can eat' clauses or a deliberate fudge of the issue. Interestingly perhaps, they have all been Government lawyer inspired. My advice has always been to walk away from the contract - better for your soul and your bank balance but usually greed prevails.

        1. Justicesays
          Devil

          Re: System delivery

          "Offshore developers are rarely the issue as long as they are treated as a pure subcontractor (in-house or not) however it is necessary to apply as rigorous quality management processes as your your customer will (or should). This overhead usually means that offshore is not a cost reduction but for resource only and may indeed cost more due to quality assurance overheads. "

          Translation:

          Pay peanuts, get monkeys. Then employ extra people to look through their random output until you eventually find an approximation of Hamlet. Then it turns out the customer wanted Macbeth.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, although they did buy out the company implementing the said project right at the end of the project.

      However I think it still counts :( and Anon because don't want said system to turn to Sh*t tomorrow

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes they have delivered

      Posting AC because I'm involved with its replacement but the original system to handle the extension to the London congestion Charging was delivered on time and afaik, under budget. This was version that replaced the 1st gen system that used Biztalk (ha-ha, rofl)

      Then Crapita lost out to IBM who proceeded to re-invent the wheel and fuck it up royally.

      IMHO, the system was delivered on time only because Crapita developed none of the code themselves.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £10000

    That appears to be the value of the contract per serving soldier. It's hard to believe that a system working on, say, civilians communicating by email and keeping records in box files, could cost that much, in terms of first cost or likely ongoing operational cost. So what exactly was the point?

    1. Fonant

      Re: £10000

      1. Lots of money for the friends of the government in the private sector.

      2. Lots of well-paid jobs in the same companies for government people in the future.

      3. No accountability to allow the people to blame the government for the failures.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £10000

        3. No accountability to allow the people to blame the government for the failures.

        Here in lies the problem. The government are actually blamed for the failures, repeatedly. Posts like yours show that. (The difference is no one senior in government feels any pain).

        The bit that is really missing is that the private sector companies who constantly fail to deliver get away with it over and over again, no one feels any pain and they win new contracts.

  5. Lee D Silver badge

    Government - IT. Say no more.

    Just look for the money sink, watch as nothing changes, and more money is thrown at it whereas if it were us mere peons organising something on that scale, we'd be in court on embezzlement charges and mismanagement of funds before it got close to these kinds of figures.

    Honestly, why would it even cost one million, let alone these ridiculous figures? There isn't a piece of software on the planet that can justify costing more than one million (Oracle users excepted) without being one of those life-critical systems that's keeping people alive.

    And then question why it's more than a bit of software installed on the usual machines they're already using, even if that's via a web-based interface.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Government - IT. Say no more.

      Just look for the money sink, watch as nothing changes, and more money is thrown at it whereas if it were us mere peons organising something on that scale, we'd be in court on embezzlement charges and mismanagement of funds before it got close to these kinds of figures.

      I sort of agree, except this is a private sector company causing the chaos. They fuck things up time after time yet no market force appears to be punishing them for incompetence. They are just as bad when they provide private sector IT, but it is less high profile.

      Despite this, Capita (and countless other big players in the outsourcing biz) get money thrown at them - even by companies which then have to pay someone else to deliver the stuff properly.

  6. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Capita IT solutions

    That's a serious Oxy-zika-infected-cabbage if I ever heard one.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok, so it's always amusing to poke fun at Crapita, but how much of this is their fault and how much is down to constantly moving goal-posts?

  8. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Well, recruiting can be tricky, sort of.

  9. leaway2

    "We already have legacy IT systems in place at the moment being used to provide adequate performance in the interim."

    Perfect. Give us our money back and sod off.

  10. philthane

    Too many politicians and senior civil servants with degrees in History, Classics and PPE. And no idea what they are doing.

  11. JaitcH
    FAIL

    So long as Capita provides continuing Financial Support to the Tories ...

    it will continue to be granted contracts with the most supplier-serving terms. The same applies to G4S and the other back-handers.

    I remember when the WD, yes the War Department, issued contracts and insisted that all the terms be met. What's with today's defence contractors?

    And the worst thing is whilst these grafters are making a profit, UK military front-liners are paying the price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So long as Capita provides continuing Financial Support to the Tories ...

      So long as Capita provides continuing Financial Support to the Tories ...

      So how does that explain the fat, easy money years they enjoyed under the governance of Blair and Brown?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So long as Capita provides continuing Financial Support to the Tories ...

        Sewer rats are unencumbered by loyalty - they'll be "donating to worthy causes" on both sides of the house.

      2. Mark Dempster

        Re: So long as Capita provides continuing Financial Support to the Tories ...

        >So how does that explain the fat, easy money years they enjoyed under the governance of Blair and Brown?<

        It's fairly easy to argue that Blair was really in the wrong party, and successfully transformed the Labour party into a 'softer' version of the Tories - so their policies continued. Corbyn is struggling to put that right due to resistance from MPs parachuted into position by Blair.

        I think Brown's heart was in the right place, but once in the top job he had his hands too full dealing with the world crash to make any impact on anything else.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real problem isn't the IT system as such (it's pretty terrible, but not to the extent that it stops you working). The problem is the processes. We can have a potential soldier in front of us who we've interviewed and decided we want, with his medical form filled in by his GP who has passed a fitness test but it will still take a couple of months minimum to actually get him in the Army. That's best case, worst case is a year plus.

    Maybe they could do with a few more solution architects or whatever, someone who can take a look at not just what the best way to accomplish a series of tasks is but at why we are doing them at all.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      I think they may have discovered the solution to eternal peace

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Interesting

      I'm highly involved with the (re)design and implementation of process automation (or rather inverting processes so they are driven by automation) at the Army; perhaps we should look at that.

      Got any more info that could help? :-)

  13. Adrian Midgley 1

    Not really a solutions or software company are they?

    Rather, they are a company good at writing bids and proposals in terms which have become an intricate game themselves.

    When they get a contract, then they go looking for someone who might fulfill it.

  14. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  15. Omgwtfbbqtime

    One thing Crapita and the other outsourcers are good at...

    ... is negotiating contracts.

    Unfortunately MoD (civilian and military) and in fact pretty much all of the civil service in general have no clue on how to do this.

    Then you have the issue of moving the goal posts after the contract is agreed - with all of the incremental change costs to add.

  16. adam payne

    "There have been difficulties, you are right," Sir Michael replied. "We already have legacy IT systems in place at the moment being used to provide adequate performance in the interim."

    Difficulties for three years? What difficulties do they have?

    Army recruitment levels were not affected by the failure of Capita to provide a modern recruitment IT system, the Defence Secretary insisted, while admitting: "We continue to press Capita to give us as early a delivery date as possible next year."

    You say it right there, failure of Capita. Rip the contract up, demand the money back and go elsewhere.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is there a bigger game on here...

    ...so its IBM providing shoddy services to the Australian government, Capita providing shoddy services to he UK government, is there a gamed system here between all the suppliers and governments? (no response required)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile in Afghan...

    £1.3Bn could have bought a shedload of body armour and Chinooks...

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile in Afghan...

      But only a literal shedload, once the procurement people had got into the act...

  19. PeterM42
    Facepalm

    Spelling mistake in the title...

    ......it's spelt CRAPITA, not Capita.

  20. Potemkine Silver badge

    UK wanabee recruits should directly apply to the US Army, it would avoid a proxy.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's live

    Behold, it's gone live... might have to tweak the performance a bit.

    https://apply.army.mod.uk/register

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