back to article We couldn't deliver prisoner rehab plans because Sopra Steria ballsed up our IT, Interserve tells High Court

Interserve has alleged that Sopra Steria's IT outsourcing division caused it to bungle a Ministry of Justice prisoner rehabilitation contract because too many of the latter's staff were signed off sick through stress caused by overwork to deliver on its promises. In a stinging counterclaim to a High Court case filed by Sopra …

  1. TimMaher Silver badge


    You’d have thought that the MoJ is big enough to have its own IT department as this requirement looks like it covers the entire gamut.

    There are smaller companies that manage with an internal, wholly owned, IT function and yet, here we are again, the outsourcing siren has sung.

    1. Steve Foster

      Re: Outsourcing

      Ah, but in this case, the outsourcer (InterServe) is itself outsourcing work to another party (SS).

      You'd think the MoJ contract would forbid such (or that the MoJ would directly outsource to SS). Oh wait, government...

      1. osakajin Silver badge

        Re: Outsourcing

        Taste of their own medicine.

      2. Mike 137 Silver badge

        the outsource chain

        Chains of outsource are commonplace in "consulting". Years back the CEO of a consultancy I nearly signed up with as an associate said to me "never admit you can't deliver a service. Always say yes, then find a subcontractor to do it for you".

        Unless a contract explicitly denies permission to do this (and they never seem to) this is the way the game is played and has been for ages. It explains a lot about the results. But if you're honest and don't do this, you miss taking a lucrative cut from lots of assignments in areas where you have no expertise and therefore can't evaluate the performance of your subcontractor.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Outsourcing

        It's commonplace. I used to work in one outsourcer that had been outsourced from another contract with the customer. The end "customer" didn't care about that naturally. It was just a finger pointing exercise between outsourcers as to who was responsible for what.

        Those of us at the coal face felt powerless to actually deliver to the end customer as invoices wouldn't be paid or stuff that was needed was out of scope on the outsourced contract. Frustrating and soul destroying when trying to do the right thing and value for the end customer.

        I don't work in that outsourced industry anymore and would avoid the likes of Sopra, Capita etc. if you want a happy employment and life.


      4. Michael Strorm

        Re: Outsourcing

        The Xzibit approach to outsourcing...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Outsourcing

      Neither should have been allowed to touch a Fucking thing. Serially incompetent.

  2. Tim99 Silver badge

    Oh dear,

    Some commentators seem to think that the main purpose of these projects is to get working systems that are able to do a job. Sorry people, it isn't - The main purpose is to shovel large amounts of taxpayers' money to a government's friends - If it "sort of works" it's an unexpected bonus. If it works well someone probably failed - It's hard to ask for even more money to patch up something that does the job...

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Oh dear,

      An old colleague in an engineering office used to have a great poster up on his wall

      "Consulting - If you're not part of the Solution, there's money to be made prolonging the Problem."

      Seems appropriate...

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Re: Oh dear,

        If El Reg doesn't mind me posting a link, all of these quotes and many more are available over at :

        I have a few of my own personal favourites.

  3. Ashto5

    Outsource Fun

    Well it’s been done for the last 50 years

    You put bean counters in charge and BOOM race to the bottom

    The old saying

    “You think professionals are expensive, try amateurs”

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another Chris "Failing" Greyling aka the Fat Nocontroller or maybe Michael "Oil slick" Gove legacy ...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    See, outsourcing does work.

    Interserve clearly failed to deliver on their contracts. If the IT was in house to InterServe they’d have no reason to blame themselves, their IT outsourced gives them room to blame others and recover any costs for contract failings, win (awarded contract), win (no blame on InterServe), win (reclaim from SS any penalties paid to MoJ).

    The lesson to SS is they should have outsourced that provisioning too.

    I see MoJ is now trying to insource a number of functions. About time!!!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    was part of SS running on the MoJ account back from 2010 to 2016 - we were severely undermanned then, and this wasn't the higher levels, this was the base line courts and probation offices level, workload was immense, pay rates were awful, morale was surprisingly good within the teams in my office are anyway, which is probably why we stuck it out for so long.

    But the overall attitude of the Co was to keep the whole thing rolling on, as it WAS making them a lot of money, which again, is a disgrace, as if it IS making money, look after it ffs, and maybe paying decent rates we could have got someone / anyone in, it was an SC requirement contract, so that meant you can't just put anyone in, they had to get the SC and if they failed, they were out, account locked within minutes of the notification arriving.

    We started as contractors, reasonable rate, they chopped that by 10%, and then offered us perm or leave, so some of us went the perm route, for another rate drop, and then they needed more contractors, but couldn't get any at that rate, so put it back up to the original one, which didn't help matters in the office either.

    All in all, SS displayed a staggering lack of care / concern for the client and their needs, but DID care about the amount of £££ being ripped off from them.

    Which, I suppose is the standard practice across the board, and sadly, is what I seem to run across in most of my contracts too.

    AC because ...........

  7. dvd

    This sort of thing is inevitable.

    Companies have to bid on more contacts than they are capable of fulfilling under the assumption that not all the bids will be successful. Companies can't afford to have staff sitting idle on the off chance that they will win a contract.

    But sometimes they win more contacts than expected. They can't back out so the staff just have to cope.

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