back to article Shhhhhh: Fujitsu bags another £12m from Libraries NI as bosses fail to bookmark replacement

Libraries Northern Ireland - the public sector organ which, erm, runs libraries in Northern Ireland - has renewed an IT services contract with Fujitsu worth £12m after running out of time to run a tender process. The contract extension, for 29 months, comes after Fujitsu won a five-year deal worth £25m in 2013. That contract …

  1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Loadsa money

    NI received a £1bn payout to induce the Ulster Unionists to support Theresa May's deal. The recent agreement to resume government from Stormont appears to have been facilitated by further bungs. I don't suppose the library service sees much need to economise.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Loadsa money

      Its not really about economizing. Having worked in the Northern Ireland Public Sector for a while (and with some of the Library dudes on various projects), there is a war going on which might resonate.

      Enterprise Shared Services (ESS) is managed in NI with large contracts to Fujitsu, BT and Capita, and to be frank, they are rarely best value, though there is pressure to be part of them.

      They are controlled by the DFP Department Finance and Personnel who holds everyones purse strings - so the pressure is real.

      You cant get approval for a large project without DFP approval, and you (used to, not sure now) had to include Shared Services in any IT related business case byond your 'delegated spend' (50-500K depending upon the department or ALB (Arms Length Body =~ quango).

      Meanwhile, Most NI departments want to maintain their own inhouse teams (who wrote the

      Business Case, according to the bloody DFP Template). They tend to over complicate the requirements in an effort to get out of shared services. result - over expensive shared services. Great for the next procurement!

      NI Civil Service senior managers are recruited based on the civil service code - meaning its soft skills which count (the ten competencies thing) , rather than any technical competence, With no real IT experience at senior levels of the NICS (even Shared Services), relationships with BT, Fujitsu and Capita are used, both for the supply and the consultation stuff = bad.

      That all said, the Library system is quite impressive - but it did take a chunk of its ICT and pass it to Education, back a few years ago (school Libraies, and there are almost 1300 of them).

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Loadsa money

        To add a little insight, the Fujitsu system seems to be at least somewhat off-the-shelf, as overdue books are "delinquent", a term not usually encountered in UK libraries, but standard in US ones. And Libraries NI purchasing decisions, at least with regards to books, have been a bit questionable for years.

    2. Steve Graham

      Re: Loadsa money

      1. "Ulster Unionist Party" is the name of a specific political party in Northern Ireland. It was the "Democratic Unionist Party" who were bribed by the Conservatives.

      2. The supposed billion has had no visible effect on anything, and even if it really does exist, libraries are not a priority for austerity-obsessed politicians.

      3. The Prime Mister was typically evasive when asked about the promised additional funding.

  2. P.B. Lecavalier
    FAIL

    £25m over 5 years

    "a five-year deal worth £25m in 2013"

    How do you justify such a price tag for... libraries IT? Did they move from index cards and everything on paper???

    What could be possibly involved: a website, a catalogue database, some software and terminals for checkout, a few public terminals in each library, and that's it. That's nothing really new, you know... I mean it's the stuff of high school projects.

    What's the population of Northern Ireland? Slightly below 2 million. With that money, you could build or expand several libraries.

    We have reasons to believe that this procurement was rigged, and now that it is quietly extended means one of two things: incompetence or corruption.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £25m over 5 years

      Bit more than that, though

      Over 100 sites accross N Ireland to manage

      250,000+members

      Book ordering

      Stock transfer and management (perhaps 5,000,000 items (books, periodicals physical media, etc) give or take)

      License management for digital lending media

      Physical movement - perhaps 20 vans moving stuff - including vehicle route planning and real time gps tracking.

      The mobile library service uses 3/4 & satellite comms for web access (this was done before ubiquitous 3/4 G in Northern Ireland rural areas)

      800+ staff - perhaps 1500 pcs (with half in public access areas)

      securing 8-900 public access PCs with web access (porn filters etc)

      Interfaces with school libraries service (1300 schools)

      Events management

      Production of content.

      No microfiche anymore.... There was until quite recently.

      It is a bit overpriced, though

    2. Mr Booth
      Coat

      Re: £25m over 5 years

      I take it you never worked in Libraries then.

      "What could be possibly involved: a website, a catalogue database, some software and terminals for checkout, a few public terminals in each library, and that's it. That's nothing really new, you know... I mean it's the stuff of high school projects."

      I showed this to the other library staff I work with and there are some lunches and beverages that have become ejaculated forcefully from their owner's mouths.

      I am even going to print your quote and put it on the wall in our office. I will of course give you full credit.

      I wish I had time to fully explain the role that technology plays in libraries and how we manage data, metadata and digital archives etc.; however my time is limited and I wouldn't even know where to start.

      Do some research or better still ask a librarian for some help bringing you up to speed :)

      Mine's the coat with the tattle tale strips in it, because RFID is really shit at securing books in libraries.

      1. P.B. Lecavalier

        Re: £25m over 5 years

        "we manage data, metadata and digital archives"

        And is Fujitsu paid to enter the metadata? Isn't that supposed to be handled by employees already on the payroll? Or are digital archive a whole new thing? Surely if you have to scan millions of pages and it's a whole new business sector, hmm, a few millions bucks don't seem excessive.

        From where I come from, maybe libraries don't have such a portfolio, but on the other hand it they did not expand into make-believe work, as bureaucracies are wont to do.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re:I take it you never worked in Libraries then.

        @@ ["What could be possibly involved: a website, a catalogue database, some software and terminals for checkout, a few public terminals in each library, and that's it. That's nothing really new, you know... I mean it's the stuff of high school projects."]

        This was more tech than libraries in the UK had up until 1990s, when there were more libraries so on the subject of who has worked in libraries then that is a very interesting question.

        Admittedly no real DRM or public internet access until late '90s with back end on country mini with serial terminal access until 00's, then content management switched to web interface ( 10 medium spec PCs and 4 client facing in a city library, up to 2 of same per village library) with DRM and public internet on separate stand alone systems before funding cuts shut virtually all of the libraries down. So in 00's regional library interface in a small city was equivalent typically 100 windows PCs plus peripherals i.e. less than a retail call centre. Now you could provide the client access via Raspberry PIs instead of PCs instead and save a bundle since the back end is doing the heavy lifting and is perhaps, on say the then UK scale, equivalent to a small size logistics company customer support centre in terms of access tech.

        This based upon actually building, installing and supporting the client systems for a small city effectively solo, except for delivery, over the course of roughly 6 weeks at the start of the 00's. Imaged and SSID swapped NT4 client PC came out of box, put on desk, boot, add static IP, confirm connection to web system via IE, add printer, next. Regional back end was a NT4 server cluster, providing WINS, domain authentication and web hosting behind that was the national mainframe. Not exactly rocket science but it did the job and onsite support was at most equivalent to a visit per week across the city per year.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      incompetence or corruption

      This is Northern Ireland, you can have both at the same time.

      1. Joeyjoejojrshabado

        Re: incompetence or corruption

        A very good book that you WILL find at the library is Burned by Sam Mcbride. 210 copies in all!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Organ is the correct term

    I am a Northern Ireland resident who used to work for Fujitsu in their NOC. What a complete and utter clusterfuck that was. Never in the history of human endeavour has so little been accomplished by so many.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Stormont says...

      "Hold my beer!"

  4. The Nazz

    Was £5m a year and now it's £6m a year.

    If it's anything like our local library* how much of the increase is down to the additional requirements to provide data before you can borrow an item?

    On joining the library i had to declare i was one of some 50 ethnicities. Now there's an additional page required to choose one of a multitude of genders, or invent a new one ie specify Others?

    *still, in a Labour constituency, with a majority Labour council and 100% caring Labour cabinet determined to (continue to) destroy local assets and facilities we should be grateful we still have one.

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