back to article Signing up for the RAF? Don't bother – you've been Capita'd

Capita’s disastrous Recruiting Partnership Project with the UK Ministry of Defence is so bug ridden that the Royal Air Force stopped taking on new recruits except for those in “priority roles”. As revealed by The Register last week, Capita’s crappy DRS system, as foisted on the Armed Forces for managing recruitment, has failed …

  1. seven of five Silver badge
    Mushroom

    RAF?

    Well, unlike the RN, RAF still has planes... so it might be a good^H^H^H^H^Hbetter idea. *grumble, grumble...*

  2. fnusnu
    Joke

    "disasterous"

    Did Capita supply your spell checker?

    1. Jason Hindle Silver badge

      Yours too. Didn't catch the misspelling of Crapita.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It just makes it more of a disaster, for example this has been outsoured to Crapita.

  3. Lysenko

    Failure to decrapitate your supply chain always entails a substantial risk of decapitating services. Universal constant.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    The Crap of Death.

  5. Salestard

    Another resounding Crapita success

    Honestly, I don't know why Her Majesty's Cretins-in-Power continue to give these clowns anything more important or complicated than getting dressed. Well, actually, I can probably guess, and it'll involve the phrase 'non-executive directorship'. The fact that Crapita could burn water if left unsupervised is entirely irrelevant, as we can't all live on a civil service pension, what?

    There's a more subtle problem with the loss of traditional recruiting offices: historically they were the first line of screening. Senior reserve or approaching retirement NCOs would act as encouragers, or discouragers, depending on judgement, for those who came in.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Another resounding Crapita success

      Honestly, I don't know why Her Majesty's Cretins-in-Power continue to give these clowns anything

      Clearly goes to show that you attended the wrong school. Send your children to the right one next time.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Another resounding Crapita success

      "we can't all live on a civil service pension"

      I certainly couldn't on mine. Contrary to what's commonly believed it's not that great, at least not for the other ranks. I've certainly been in better.

    3. DaveTheForensicAnalyst
      FAIL

      Re: Another resounding Crapita success

      They are cheap! That is all (at the beginning, until you realise you will be on to their support, every day, of every month, for ever!)

  6. John G Imrie

    This is not a 'crappy DRS system'

    This is a cunning plan to reduce the cost of the MoD

    Yours,

    The Baldric Consulting Company LLP.

  7. Snorlax

    Crapital Punishment

    "Capita’s crappy DRS system, as foisted on the Armed Forces for managing recruitment, has failed to the point that recruits are almost unable to sign up online."

    Unable to sign up online? Is that a bad thing? Is an online signup binding?

    I mean it's not like you're putting your name down for a bit of weekend night shift work at Asda.

    1. Lotaresco

      Re: Crapital Punishment

      "Unable to sign up online?

      Yes.

      "Is that a bad thing?"

      Yes.

      "Is an online signup binding?"

      Yes.

      1. Snorlax

        Re: Crapital Punishment

        Ok Lotaresco, please elaborate on your 'yes' to my question "Is that a bad thing?"

        1. Lotaresco

          Re: Crapital Punishment

          'Ok Lotaresco, please elaborate on your 'yes' to my question "Is that a bad thing?"'

          The primary function of the system is to attract potential recruits and to let them sign up on line. At the risk of stating the obvious if they can't sign up on line it rather defeats the purpose of the system, doesn't it? This is a bad thing.

          How happy would you feel with an on line banking system which required you to wet sign a cheque and pop it in the post at the end of the process?

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Crapital Punishment

            How happy would you feel with an on line banking system which required you to wet sign a cheque and pop it in the post at the end of the process?

            You use the same online bank as me? Who'd have thought...

            Seriously though, I do genuinely come across this level of stupid on occasion.

            1. Lotaresco

              Re: Crapital Punishment

              "You use the same online bank as me? Who'd have thought..."

              :-)

              It does sound a lot like the Santander on line banking system. Although that's more famous for accepting a transaction then having their on line security dorks cancel the whole thing because the transaction that you made from the mobile app was selected for confirmation by "Security" they rang your home phone number and no one answered so they cancelled the transaction. This means "Big Dave" the plumber thinks that you tried to shaft him and he wants your blood. "Security" can't understand how you managed to access on line banking when you weren't at home. They also refuse to phone the mobile number that you do all your banking from because "That would be insecure."

              WTAF?

              1. IsJustabloke
                Stop

                Re: Crapital Punishment

                "They also refuse to phone the mobile number that you do all your banking from because "That would be insecure.""

                As much as I hate finding myself in the position of defending Shitandar... they'll ring whatever number you tell them to ring. in my case, they always ring my mobile.

                Their security process is a bit shit though... a computer asking you if you know about these " 5 transactions y/n ?"

                Although it does offer three dob's and ask me to indicate the correct one which I think is a much better way of confirming security than the normal methods

                1. Lotaresco

                  Re: Crapital Punishment

                  "As much as I hate finding myself in the position of defending Shitandar... they'll ring whatever number you tell them to ring. in my case, they always ring my mobile."

                  In a process that requires you to know in advance that a company that takes your mobile phone number as part of its registration process to use online banking as well as your home phone number has a completely separate process that they don't tell you about to get your mobile phone number registered as the number for "Security" to contact. The only time you find this out is when the morons stop a transaction.

                  No other bank does it this way. They all have a fairly clear process that is clearly explained and most of them have some form of two-factor authentication. Only Santander has a hair-trigger security process that is designed to stop customers spending their own money.

  8. Lotaresco
    Flame

    A bit predictable

    Recruiting used to be run by HPES and the MOD had a falling out with them. It was obvious that they weren't going to win the next round of contracts. Capita took over and since that day they have been clowns, with big clown shoes, tap dancing in a minefield.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: A bit predictable

      with big clown shoes, tap dancing in a minefield.

      Please, pretty please(*)?

      (*)Nothing personal, just business. The previous company I worked for had them running HR and payroll resulting in me owing HMRC > 3 grand due right after Xmas.

    2. Commswonk

      Re: A bit predictable

      Capita took over and since that day they have been clowns, with big clown shoes, tap dancing in a minefield.

      Would that that was true. If it was some of the mines might actually have gone off and taught Capita a well - deserved lesson.

      As things stand it seems that no matter how badly they screw things up in whatever "discipline" they touch they are awarded more and more of our money to cover even more activities. It's high time they were penalised - properly - for getting things so wrong.

      1. Lotaresco

        Re: A bit predictable

        "Would that that was true. If it was some of the mines might actually have gone off and taught Capita a well - deserved lesson."

        Remember it all takes time. EDS were in charge of the contract back in 2008 and were pilloried over the loss of "a laptop" from a recruiter's car and subsequently a hard drive from EDS premises. Eventually EDS's share price collapsed allowing HP to buy them out. It was a long time from EDS taking over the contract to the inevitable pigeon-roosting. Even then I have some sympathy that despite deserving their fate that they seemed to be made the scapegoat for MOD's foul-ups.

        HP then had the task of running the contract, but it was mostly a re-branding exercise. HP became much more security conscious and, as far as I can tell as an outside observer, fell foul of MOD because HP wanted to do things right and MOD wanted to do things cheap. OK HP aren't known for undercharging so they probably wanted £s meeelions for simple config changes, as they always do, but I was aware at the time of HP trying to get the security right and recruiting some very good people.

        Then came the end of contract and HP were dropped from the running. I suspect that was their clown-shoe to mine interface moment. Crapita how have it, and the things I've heard suggest that it's all going as well as anything Crapita goes. That to me means that their moment will come, but the moments never come quickly and often those paying the price are not those who made the bad decisions.

        In other areas the chain of bottom kicking becomes circular. There's a major MOD programme that was EDS, then HP then was given to CSC, which is now DXC with staff at CSC who were TUPE'd from HP to CSC and other staff who were originally HP, stayed with HP when HP lost the contract and are now back on the programme because they are now DXC. But don't worry that bad old EDS that caused the problems is long gone and buried, except that the vast majority of staff on the programme all have EDS on their CV. Sir Humphrey is alive and well in Whitehall.

        1. BebopWeBop
          Facepalm

          Re: A bit predictable

          It makes one quite dizzy, all those revolving door and half of them are not included in your account!

  9. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    It's all part of the plan...

    Well the MOD needs to reduce costs, so reducing head count is required. Since sacking people would be a bad political headline, do it from the other end - just dont hire new people. But how to do that without risking a backlash - Easy! Hire Crapita, let them destroy the recruiting system, and let them continue to run the now non-functioning System for the next 5 years and boom, your head count is reduced and all the blame falls on Crapita!

    All part of the plan...

    1. magpie67
      Linux

      Re: It's all part of the plan...

      I had to remember my login and password just to upvote you! :}

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    Did the 23 000 strong MoD Procurement Force have anything to do with this?

    Is that the biggest single group of useless ba***ds in the whole of the UK Civil Service?

    Seriously, they already had a working system and staff to study and ask for improvements and corrections from

    And "multiple interfaces." I'd guess that's pretty much every HMG stovepiped system feeding every other stovepiped system.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did the 23 000 strong MoD Procurement Force have anything to do with this?

      Is that the biggest single group of useless ba***ds in the whole of the UK Civil Service?

      MoD and "Defence Equipment & Support" are clearly world leaders in failure, waste, incompetence, and not taking responsibility (FWINtr). Barely a week goes by without an update on yet another vast MoD screwup. But don't forget that those Civil Service core values of FWINtr are cultural, and actively promoted through the entire sorry organisation, looking at the persistent failures of projects at the Home Office, DoH, DWP, MoJ, DfT, Defra and others. Quite laughable to read the official Mission of the Civil Service: "The mission of the Civil Service is the achievement of an excellent service for Government and the other institutions of State as well as for the public as citizens and users of public services, based on principles of integrity, impartiality, effectiveness, equity and accountability."

      An evidence based Mission of the Civil Service would read something like this: The mission of the Civil Service is the achievement of epic waste for Government and the other institutions of State as well as for the public as citizens and users of public services, based on principles of incompetence, insularity, ineffectiveness, denial and unaccountability.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Did the 23 000 strong MoD Procurement Force have anything to do with this?

        Mission Statements? We all know Mission Statements are just places where good intentions go to die. They have no relationship to anything that actually happens.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "The mission of the Civil Service is the achievement of epic waste for Government "

        One of my favorite lines on recruitment comes from Hugh Grant's character in "An Awfully Big Adventure." I know, not usually known for his profound remarks on the human condition but...

        "We scoured the lengths and breadths of the (acting) profession and you were the very best available"

        Three seconds pause while the cast feel a healthy glow of self validation and esprit-de-corps

        "For the money."

        I often wonder how many problems of the UK CIvil Service are down to "If you pay peanuts...."

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: "The mission of the Civil Service is the achievement of epic waste for Government "

          I think the rule is that if you pay them more, you just pay for a higher level of incompetence.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "The mission of the Civil Service is the achievement of epic waste for Government "

          I often wonder how many problems of the UK CIvil Service are down to "If you pay peanuts...."

          Surprisingly few. Most of the problems are down to the culture of the civil service itself, which is about avoiding all personal decisions, evading any responsibility after the event, and deferring anything that can be deferred. The UK Civil Service has evolved to be an art form in work avoidance.

          I was briefly a civil servant and hated the organisation, and my partner is now a civil servant, and now she hates the civil service.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Did the 23 000 strong MoD Procurement Force have anything to do with this?

        all the suppliers are waiting for the annual Civil service Christmas break so we can deliver stuff to the client without them trying delaying tactics to suspend payment.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Per Ardua ad Astra"

    The motto of the RAF : Through adversity to the stars.

    This system is the adversity bit. Get recruits used to adversity right from the off.

  12. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Just recieved my Grandfather's RAF service records

    Lovely experience dealing with the RAF historian.

    All done by paper form, cheque and mail.

    Maybe the old ways ARE best.

  13. TrumpSlurp the Troll
    Flame

    Incremental Remediation

    Or fire fighting as it used to be called.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outsource the outsource

    Capita is rightly getting a lot of flak for this, but is should be noted that they themselves outsourced the management of the project to Hunter Macdonald, whose HQ is in Reading, just round the corner from where this debacle was developed.

    Curiously there is no mention anywhere of Capita or DRS on the Hunter Macdonald website.

  15. hekla

    Quoted on the BBC

    This article has now been quoted on the Beeb

    http://www.bbc.com/news/live/business-42280595

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Quoted on the BBC

      aww.... For a moment there I thought you were saying the comments thread was being quoted on the Beeb... Oh well our commentard infamy will have to wait for another day...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. BebopWeBop

      Re: Quoted on the BBC

      One might have expected their "new hounds" (arf arf) to have picked up what has been a festering and not too private sore for some time

  16. adam payne

    Around 200 full-time reservists are being laid off in January to make way for outsourced civilians employed by Capita, The Sun reported in October. One told the paper: “When a potential applicant asks what it’s like in the Army, the civilian recruiters won’t have a clue.”

    So Capita make a massive mess of your recruitment system and you think it's still wise to outsource jobs to the same company.

    I do actually agree with the point raised, how is a outsourced recruiter going to be able to best advise someone looking into a career in the forces?

    Will these Capita recruiters be getting commission?

    The MoD told El Reg that “a short term drop in numbers was expected as the new system is bedding in” and that the Armed Forces “continue to manage and support an active pipeline of candidates.”

    Another head in the sand statement from the MoD.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      The MoD told El Reg that “a short term drop in numbers was expected as the new system is bedding in” and that the Armed Forces “continue to manage and support an active pipeline of candidates.”

      Another head in the sand statement from the MoD.

      "Bedding in" means "lying down on the job".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        or in their case, just lying will suffice

    2. Lotaresco

      The MoD told El Reg that “a short term drop in numbers was expected as the new system is bedding in” and that the Armed Forces “continue to manage and support an active pipeline of candidates.”

      Another head in the sand statement from the MoD.

      Is this the same MOD that is failing to achieve its brilliant plan to replace full time military personnel with thousands of reservists and weekend warriors?

  17. macjules Silver badge

    Outsourcing the Outsourcing

    So now Tri-Service Defence Recruiting System (DRS) is fully controlled by Capita, despite them having delivered neither the site nor the user role capability that they promised.

    We also have Sopra (Hy)Steria manipulating managing the logistics system, not just for the Army but for all three services’ as a "separate stores management systems with a single inventory management information system capability" .. which I am so sure works perfectly ok.

    Oh, and by the way: the NHS login system, also managed by Capita has not been updated since 2007 from .NET 1.1 - looking forward to seeing that one in the press soon.

  18. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Have Capita ever done anything well?

    No, seriously. Have they ever?

    As in something that worked, not something that massively screwed over the tax payer and the organisation supposed to be using it rather than lining the pockets of the shareholders and executives of Capita.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Have Capita ever done anything well?

      "No, seriously. Have they ever?"

      I've been sub-contractor to a sub-contractor on a couple that actually worked. However, since then I've retired and Capita subsequently lost the contracts - to IBM I think. Could correlation actually be causation?

  19. TonyJ Silver badge

    Slightly unrelated, but...

    ...our local council use Crapita to process online payments for various things from council taxes to paying for a recycling bin for garden waste. It was on the latter that tit ook me more than a few seconds when being sent to the card payment site that the big graphics of card types wasn't just a "we accept the following" type of thing but was waiting for me to tell it which type of card I was planning to use by clicking on the right one.

    Notwithstanding that most places seem to be able to work this out automatically from the card number, there was nothing at all to indicate you were supposed to do this.

    1. DJSpuddyLizard

      Re: Slightly unrelated, but...

      Notwithstanding that most places seem to be able to work this out automatically from the card number, there was nothing at all to indicate you were supposed to do this.

      Yes, the first two digits... If you say "37..." I say "American Express". "60" = Discover Card, "4" = Visa, etc.

      Oh, and don't you love "discoverable" interfaces? I always delight in discovering an optimum experience

  20. Ana Cronym

    My kind of interface

    “There are several system interfaces, with data not always populating between the systems"

    Took me minutes to design that it did. Minutes, I tells ya.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Capita Decapitated Capital Enlistment

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    To misquote the Chronicles of Riddick...

    There are the armed forces and the MoD.

    The armed forces live by a certain code.

    The MoD does the enemies work for them.

    Brings shame to the game.

  23. Nunquam non Paratus

    Don't worry, knowing Crapita (twATOS in disguise), all of us ex RAF personnel who are in poor health from service when you physically signed up, I'm talking 1980's,we'll be forced back in while younger recruits will still get screwed over!

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