back to article British government to ink deal for yet another immigration database

The UK Home Office will sign a deal with Accenture to replace its clunky 1990s-era immigration and asylum applications system – having previously written off £347m in its last attempted overhaul. The department confirmed procurements have been awarded to Accenture and PA Consulting as "caseworking delivery partners" to replace …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    Usual suspects again

    What were those fine words a few years ago about giving more contracts to SMEs ? I doubt that they would do worse than Accenture & gang.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Usual suspects again

      At least Crapita aren't involved. Yet.

      Presumably they'll get the contract in four years after this attempt has turned into a massive failure.

      1. Tom 64
        Windows

        Re: Usual suspects again

        > "after this attempt has turned into a massive failure."

        Depends on your definition of failure. If your goal is to spread out taxpayers cash to your chums, the last attempt could be considered a great success.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Usual suspects again

        At least Crapita aren't involved

        Although it has to be said - Accenture is just another Crapita pig with a different shade of lipstick..

    2. ArrZarr

      Re: Usual suspects again

      Oh I don't know, I'm sure it's possible to foul up a database with a webpage worse than the usual suspects usually do.

      I'm not sure how, mind, and I'm fairly certain that while there is a chance of a small development house fouling this up, it would be so much cheaper than Accenture that you could commission this from three or four of them and just take the best one at the end for less money.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Usual suspects again

      I think, my dear Britons friend, you made the wrong Brexit... keeping the same bloodsucking companies at work - and most of your systems will be coded in an ex-colony far away, paying nuts. But someone in England will get enough money to feel like a maharaja.

      Don't be surprised if it doesn't work again...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NEW suspects

      Cambridge University analytical might already have all the data in some nice fast terabytey RAM appliance, if Amber asks nicely, tho' she just might already have a copy in a cupboard somewhere

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Continuing to waste public money

    There is simply no way to have an effective immigration control system in a country without a mandatory identity system.

    You see a guy in the street. How can you enforce an identity check on him as an immigrant in a country where identity is not mandatory even for driving licenses while driving?

    It is a classic "Love Cake, Have Cake, Eat Cake" moment. It is time to admit - there is NO CAKE.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Continuing to waste public money

      I recall seeing one of the police TV shows where they asked for a fingerprint using a biometric scanner having stopped a vehicle driving without tax and insurance. That was apparently cross referenced against the immigration database where it was found that he'd been deported once already. (which shows how wonderfully effective out border controls are!)

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Continuing to waste public money

      @ Voland's right hand

      "There is simply no way to have an effective immigration control system in a country without a mandatory identity system."

      And in that eastern european voice I hear 'papers please' as a random person is stopped by some dressed up nosy jobsworth for nothing more than the crime of existing.

      So glad we dont have that that here. Very happy that we are allowed to exist without needing the permission to do so. Being alive is not against the law nor needs the permission of it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "And in that eastern european voice I hear 'papers please'"

        May Western Europe countries have ID cards without people complaining. We can even use them to travel abroad in some countries without any need to request a more expensive and bulky passport (which is still an ID system). and can be issued to people who don't or can't have a driving license as an alternative ID system (and why do you accept a drive license card that identifies you??).

        In many counties, having one is optional - but still you may need to prove who you are, sometimes, and that's the simplest way and commonly accepted way, no need of other proofs like driving licenses, bank statements, utility bills, etc. etc.

        The State already have all of your data, printing it on a card to speed up some identifying tasks is just making things simpler. Being detained while the police identifies you and takes your fingerprints without actually being indicted for a crime is far more invasive.

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: "And in that eastern european voice I hear 'papers please'"

          But I have a right to be here

          Sorry sir we have orders to arrest and deport you

          I've lived here all my life though

          Sorry Mr Buttle , its off to deportation with you

          But its a spelling error on my ID card, I'm Mr Tuttle, I've complained about it but had no answer

          Yeah right sir, think we were born yesterday, It says Buttle on our form, it says Buttle on your ID , case closed

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        WTF?

        Very happy that we are allowed to exist without needing the permission to do so.

        Hilarious, given that people who voted Leave are most of the reason this is necessary in the first place.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Very happy that we are allowed to exist without needing the permission to do so.

          @ John Smith 19

          "Hilarious, given that people who voted Leave are most of the reason this is necessary in the first place."

          How? Historically yes others have done this. But not here. In joining the EU Labour did suggest ID cards as they were trying to get us in line with the EU (selling us out because blair wanted to be the EU president. The same moron who wanted us to join the Euro). Leave voters are the ones who have made a move against ID cards by voting to remain the UK. To do things our way. There is a reason it is the Eastern European accent that comes to mind when we think 'papers please'. So in what alternate universe do you somehow blame the leave voters for your latest bull against brexit?

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Very happy that we are allowed to exist without needing the permission to do so.

            @codejunky: how quickly we forget, the Blair "ID cards" proposal was inherited from the previous Tory government. It was Michael Howard, as home secretary in John Major's cabinet, who first floated it in that form.

            The Tories remained so wedded to it that they promptly made that same Mr Howard their leader. It took two terms in opposition for them to see the error of their ways.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very happy that we are allowed to exist without needing the permission to do so.

        But don't mind that others need permission to exist...

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Continuing to waste public money

        Very happy that we are allowed to exist without needing the permission to do so

        There is a fundamental difference between English Common Law (and all the systems derived from it) and most of the systems used elsewhere in Europe.

        In ECL, everything is permitted unless explicitly banned. In the Napoleonic system (from which most European law systems are descended), everything is banned unless specifically allowed.

        I think I like our system better. Even though it's capable of being abused, the abuse is usually by the populace rather than by the Government.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Continuing to waste public money

          'In the Napoleonic system (from which most European law systems are descended), everything is banned unless specifically allowed.'

          Any source for that statement? Your statement sounds catchy, but can you back it up?

    3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Continuing to waste public money

      "There is simply no way to have an effective immigration control system in a country without a mandatory identity system."

      Not at all. If you have an effective border control system, then you know that anyone who is within the borders has a right to be there, so no need for any form of identity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "then you know that anyone who is within the borders has a right to be there"

        Maybe at the time of entry - but then his or her right could have been expired, revoked, etc. etc...

        Sure, some simply ditch any ID document to avoid to be identified, but that's make also difficult in some countries to do anything, you can only hide.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Continuing to waste public money

        Not at all. If you have an effective border control system, then you know that anyone who is within the borders has a right to be there, so no need for any form of identity.

        That's a big if…

        Identity systems don't have to be sophisticated (full of biometrics) to be useful and a state-sponsored one means that companies don't have to invent their own or spend as much on fraudulent identity insurance.

        I understand the legal and philosophical objections to id cards but a lot depends upon their implementation and associated laws. Difficult in the age of "won't someone think of the children!" and "is the dark-skinned man a terrorist?" to do this but doable as the recent rollout in India illustrates.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          legal and philosophical objections to id cards but a lot depends upon their implementation

          And the one Tony Blair touted was so pervasive the Conservatives got a fair bit of support just by saying they'd shut it down.

          A campaign promise they actually kept.

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Continuing to waste public money

      You see a guy in the street.

      This is going to require some Police retraining for stop-and-search

      You can assume the majority of Afro-Caribbean looking teenagers are not immigrants

      But anybody blonde and blue-eyed is likely to be a no-good sneaky Aryan Eu infiltrator.

    5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Continuing to waste public money

      where identity is not mandatory even for driving licenses while driving

      Actually - you can be forced to present your driving liscence at a Police station within 30 days. Yes, I could present someone elses driving licence but we (as a country) would far rather take that risk than allow our government to enforce mandatory identity cards on everyone.

      History teaches us (both our own and other peoples) that such a process can (and on a historical scale, will) be horribly misused.

  3. Noonoot

    "There is simply no way to have an effective immigration control system in a country without a mandatory identity system.

    You see a guy in the street. How can you enforce an identity check on him as an immigrant in a country where identity is not mandatory even for driving licenses while driving?"

    Someone finally talking sense. .

    .and who said you can't have a system without knowing what's going to happen regarding Brexit? With or without Brexi, it's called planning, and doing things in modules.

    I'm not convinced that Accenture will do that much better than what IBM (?) tried to do back then.

  4. Christoph

    What exactly are the chances that this will all be up and working by B-Day, in less than a year?

    Just what are they going to do when they find out that the replacement is nowhere near ready and the current system won't work any more?

    1. Jason Bloomberg

      "Just what are they going to do..."

      Put Ministers and MPs on the TV and radio to tell us everything is just fine and dandy while answering questions other than were asked.

      That seems to have served them well in the past; hence no 'joke alert' icon.

  5. Dr Who

    Too many chiefs?

    500 x Immigration Technology Portfolio project delivery managers on £1000 day rate

    5 x junior developers on £150 day rate

    1. tip pc Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Too many chiefs?

      an effective PM is one that ensures maximum billable time to their company, delivering the project is just a side effect.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too many chiefs?

      "5 x junior developers on £150 day rate"

      "5 x junior developers on 8000 rupees day rate"

      TFTFY

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Too many chiefs?

        5 x junior developers on Rs277.41 day rate [that's the minimum wage in Bangalore for unskilled staff]

  6. Paul Hargreaves

    > a £209m Immigration Platform Technologies programme was replacing ICW using an “agile approach, focusing on incremental improvements“

    BINGO!

    1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      I'm still missing a 'hashtag'.

  7. PNGuinn
    Mushroom

    "But he said much of the design of the system would be dependent on what policy for EU residents the government decided upon after Brexit - for example whether or not they will need visas."

    So, b****ks once again. Any last minute changes demanded by Tusktusk and Barnyard, and hastily capitulated to by Darlingbudzofmay and her team of ******** (insert your own appropriate description here - I don't have the skills in Finnish Linus has) and the next splurge of taxextortees dosh gets flushed down the crapper.

    *** We need a Hang, Draw and Quarter 'em icon, AND a Stick Their Heads on Pikes on London Bridge Icon .... <splutter> .... ***

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      This is something I disagree with. The basic system is a case management imaging and workflow system. The only bits not known at the present time is the full workflow that links the papers to an actual approval process and the conditions attached to an approval.

      So it would seem that phase one is simply imaging and basic workflow with the creation of an unstructured case database, leaving all the intelligence required bits to people. Only when we have a fully defined approval process should we think about automating the intelligence required bits.

      This was the way I successfully implemented several imaging and workflow systems in the mid/late 90's.

      Obviously, it helps to use the right tools to define the business process and approvals (ie. use a business process toolset and orchestration engine to codify business rules not VB), that way any last minute changes can be relatively easily and quickly implemented, just like the regular 'updates' that government likes to make.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Big Brother

        "The basic system is a case management imaging and workflow system. "

        Citizen.

        You are clearly in possession of state secrets relating to State computer systems you are not authorized to work on.

        Sit still and await for authorized personnel to collect you for interrogation.

        <signed>

        Big Brother.

  8. xbit

    Accenture: The Alan Pardew of large government IT projects.

    Constantly fails to deliver and yet is inexplicably given chance after chance at the job.

    1. BebopWeBop

      s/Alan Pardew/Boris Johnson,Theresa May, Jeremy Cunt, Liam Fox, Amber Rudd/g

      I could go on.....

  9. handleoclast
    Happy

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nothing can go wrong

      Don't bother your little head about it. Have some cake.

      This project will be a glorious jewel glowing in the light of the new dawn that is Brexit.

      Anyone saying different is a traitor to The British People and may be referred to the gentleman above for Hanging, Drawing & Quartering in an Agile manner by specially funded NHS units, all the foregoing, needless to say, having been impossible under the namby pamby Health & Safety/Human Rights regulations previously forced on the The British People by their enemies in Brussels.

      Hail Brexit, Hail Victory!

  10. David 18

    How does one get a slice of this pie?

    Is there a secret club that one must be a member of, which allows access to this trough of cash that all these incompetent outsourced companies have their noses in?

    Nice work if you can get it, almost limitless cash for a relatively simple database project, with the the bonus that you do not even need to deliver!

    I'm guessing the costs are so high because there is an army of "project managers" on ~£100k pa who waffle endlessly with each other about stakeholders and owners in their interminable meetings, but know nothing about actually managing a project, or the work involved. They then employ consultants at £000s per day to tell them what their tech guys have already told them and then pass the work (and the buck) to third parties, who have their own "Project Managers".

    Eventually the actual work ends up in the lap of one or two developers in a windowless room getting paid peanuts, in the form of a vague, but wordy spec with some pretty diagrams and a ludicrous project "plan" drawn up in Excel with arbitrary deadlines plucked out of the air.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: How does one get a slice of this pie?

      Is there a secret club that one must be a member of, which allows access to this trough of cash that all these incompetent outsourced companies have their noses in?

      Yes, a very secret -- absolutely Top Secret -- club: donors to a political party. Bunging money at the Tories usually pays off very well, but on occasion members have been known to hedge their bets by supporting their local Blairite. Promises of lucrative directorships being awarded to senior party members are also known to help.

      Many members of this secret club bemoan the fact that donorship in the UK doesn't pay off half as well as donorship in the US. Some are working to change that.

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: How does one get a slice of this pie?

      "Is there a secret club that one must be a member of, which allows access to this trough of cash that all these incompetent outsourced companies have their noses in?"

      Yes.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: How does one get a slice of this pie?

        Is there a secret club that one must be a member of, which allows access to this trough of cash that all these incompetent outsourced companies have their noses in?

        The club itself is not a secret. All you need to do is be a member of, or a large donor to, the conservative party. Keeping this secret is advised due to the public disgust that this engenders. Either having no shame, for example through previous experience working as an estate agent or the Daily Mail group, or posessing a severe reality dysfunction, is a strong advantage in case membership becomes public.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: How does one get a slice of this pie?

      stakeholders

      Whenever someones uses that word I get a mental image of Van Helsing..

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same old bullshit

    Their IT will have been telling them the issues. They'll have been ignored and overpriced consultants bought it. Those consultants will just spit out what the IT team have already said but will be listened to as they are consultants. The consultants just want their money so will be yes men/women. Nothing will get done. Someone will notice the consultants aren't producing anything but have already cost £1000s. The consultants will noticed they've been found out so will just leave.

    Rinse and repeat until another £300+ million is wasted.

  12. Milton

    Process Optimisation Required

    The real problem is that the proposed process is ridiculously clumsy and time-wasting. It would be much quicker, cleaner and more efficient to take these simple steps—

    1. Drive sacks of cash directly from the Mint to HQ of {Enter Big5-Consultancy Name}.

    2.a. Divvy up the cash among the senior management, executives etc.

    2.b. While totting up, agree what legislation, information, protection and favouritism {Big5-Con} requires from the Tory Government.

    2.b. Also decide which pointless well-paid sinecures at {Big5-Con} will be filled by disgraced/sacked/retired ministers.

    3. Take remaining cash to Tory Party HQ as "donations" from {Big5-Con}.

    4. Make up the cost by reducing benefits for couples holding down five separate jobs between them but who still need welfare in order to pay the landlord and feed their children, not forgetting to insist that they volunteer unpaid to personally look after and provide nursing care for their elderly relatives with dementia. Move their pensionable age back to 77 in the hope they will die before collecting on the NI and taxes they spent their entire lives paying.

    5. Declare the project a grotesque failure due to "unforeseen factors caused by—" {enter worthless excuses here, ensuring that all guilty parties are miraculously exonerated}.

    6. Promote the self-important mediocrities involved, not forgetting to issue costumes from the Dress-Up Trunk to the worst offenders (aka get Brenda to issue "honours", so they can put archaic "titles" before their names directly after 'Milk Monitor').

    The beauty of this supremely efficient process is that imbeciles Her Majesty's Ministers can move seamlessly onto their next pointless fiasco of ignorance and folly without having to wait for years.

  13. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Snout! Meet Trough!

    NFT

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    So a casework system with interfaces to 20+ seperate legacy systems

    Ha.

    During an audit on space Shuttle operations Boeing discovered it was supported by 1000 (yes literally 1000) separate databases, some still on paper.

    Of course they didn't actually automate or consolidate any of this stuff, but the point is there have been worse systems (which ,like the UK Immigration system) have also developed over long periods of time on the principle "We need a database to record to this stuff, but all the existing ones are too slow/too difficult to extend, so we'll build a new one instead."

  15. dnicholas

    Can't be worse than the competition

    I can knock something up in Access for a fiver and a pack of chips

  16. The Nazz

    What's Chris Sawyer doing these days?

    Yes, he of Roller Coaster Tycoon.

    What with modern technology and satellites and the like, couldn't he knock together a suitable system and process.

    Loved the game, click on a person, see what he/she is carrying and where they've been, AND if you don't like them or they've been naughty just pincer them away into the nearest water. Job done.

    Mind you, there'll have to be a few changes. The names are somewhat restricted and for example "a voucher for a free ride on Tornado" will have to be replaced by "a twelve inch knife."

  17. Andre 3

    Applies to *any* project *ever* - rules to success.

    * If the wheel exists don't build another one;

    * If the wheels aren't exactly the shape or size you need, augment the wheels and contribute your augmentations back for review and inclusion in the wheel inventory.

    * If the wheels don't exist, build a wheel and share the plans for the wheel.

    NB. If you work at a Big5-Con, don't do this

  18. Lotaresco

    This will fail...

    ... for the same reasons that it has failed in the past. The Civil Service can't write requirements. They don't even understand the concept. So what happens is that they get the suppliers to write the requirements themselves with some contractual stipulation about "Chinese Walls". This is flawed because it assumes that the supplier's staff will have sufficiently broad knowledge to be able to write an inclusive set of requirements that leads to selection of an optimum design, build, service and support from the supplier. However every supplier, even with good intentions, only favours or understands what they do now. They can only choose from their own menu.

    It gets worse when the Civil Service get involved with design reviews and their "new" ideas. When you get the likes of GDS screaming "Agile" and setting up some naïve process which isn't Agile because the government can't do Agile but they put some fairy-dust sprinkling of Agile in place then continue with their old design review boards and four month review periods. Then every decision needs to be signed off by a Minister who doesn't even understand what they are looking at because a PPE degree doesn't cover anything about IT, more delay, more cost, more flighty last-minute design changes.

    Still we can fix it now by buying a cloud solution <rolls eyes>.

  19. Robin Saunter

    In my somewhat maverick career in the Home Office and Foreign & Commonwealth Office I constructed several vital immigration systems in a couple of weeks with software I got free from a PC magazine CD. They worked for some years and held the fort until the inevitable hugely expensive and less functional consultancy cavalry arrived. I then became a consultant (hawk, spit...) and the first rule I learned was to get more person-days into the project. The second rule was that the project doesn't necessarly have to be delivered successfully.

  20. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. JudeKay (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: IBIS

      Hi. If you'd like to chat more about this, The Register is all ears. Kat Hall is available at khall@theregister.com

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022