back to article UK Ministry of Defence tries again to procure £1.7bn tri-service recruitment system

The UK Armed Forces are looking to restart a £1.7bn procurement for recruitment and onboarding of personnel to cover extensive IT investments as well as process outsourcing. The move follows in the footsteps of an earlier Army deal which saw Capita under-perform on a £1.3bn recruiting project. Under a 10-year contract, the UK …

  1. WanderingHaggis

    Has anyone seen an outsourcing work?

    I know when things work we don't notice them but notice when they fail however it seems to me that when ever something is outsourced it goes titup. Can anyoone tell me of a contract that has worked? Keeping things in house seems to be the only way to stand a chance of getting what you want.

    1. David Lewis 2

      Re: Has anyone seen an outsourcing work?

      It depends what you mean by “work”, and who for, the client or the outsourcer.

      I think you’ll find that from the outsourcer perspective most are very profitable, which is the only metric that counts to them.

      Did the client get what they wanted or needed and value for money? Meh.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has anyone seen an outsourcing work?

      Yep! Just once.

      The spec was very tight long before the contract was written; the contract had liquidated damages on both sides (if our experts weren't available, we'd have paid them damages); the procurement process involved technical people first (to check the outsourcer had the chops), business leaders second; estimating took forever but were accurate within 5% (which was pretty impressive); it started on the day it was meant to; technical people did all the actual management; deliveries were small and weekly so we could check that the tight spec was understood; the product only had to work for 2 years to fill a gap; after that it was sunsetted (rather than strung out); the outsourcer owned all the bugs that were found (only a few edge cases to be fair to them); the outsourcer didn't change team during that time; if fit the spec exactly - even where the spec wasn't 100% great (some UX weirdness), the software did the job; invoices were paid on time; there was honesty on both sides.

      That was the one. The only one.

      1. Friendly Neighbourhood Coder Dan

        Re: Has anyone seen an outsourcing work?

        A tear rolled down my cheek as I was reading this

    3. FlamingDeath Silver badge

      Re: Has anyone seen an outsourcing work?

      Oh you sweet summer child

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Ali Dodd

    Whats the betting it gets awarded to

    Crapita AGAIN?

    about 5 to 1 I'd say, with Serco being front runners as the gov outsource f*@kup of choice these days

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take it away from them

    and give it to DXC or Wipro.

    Oh,wait.... You wanted better ?

  5. SkippyBing


    Presumably this is supposed to cost lest than whatever the MoD currently spend on recruiting. Admittedly this may be a bit of a grey area given the Armed Forces don't seem to bother accounting for how much their personnel's' time is worth*, but if they can't prove they're even saving money why are they being allowed to spend this much. In which case where's the business case?

    *No, no, definitely makes more sense to fly you on a transport aircraft to the Gulf and have you not working for 2-3 days rather than paying £280 for a ticket on a commercial flight and losing half a day.

    1. Ken G Silver badge

      Re: Savings?

      I thought the point was to keep soldiers busy when not actually invading somewhere so they don't start fights in barracks.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Savings?

        It's not the soldiers in barracks they're worried about, it's traditionally to stop the armed forces from deciding they'd do a better job or running the country than the government/monarch/etc.

        Although, given the current shower in Westminster...

      2. SkippyBing

        Re: Savings?

        Oh I fully support keeping soldiers in barracks if they've got nothing to do. Best for everyone, I tried talking to one once, liking staring into the abyss as his poor uncomprehending eyes tried to figure out what uniform I was wearing.

        But if you're going to produce regulations and processes that require full time work from people then you can't expect them to keep on top of things if they're spending 16+ hours getting from the UK to Oman. As an example. That I'm not still bitter about.

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    Good luck with IR35. They'll probably have to triple the budget to get someone reasonable.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: IR35

      I suspect ruling that IR35 doesn't apply to the army could generate the savings.

      I think independent contractors such as the White Company is in line with current thinking on Europe

      1. W.S.Gosset

        Re: IR35

        +1 for a great old book from childhood

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No brainer

    Give it to Infosys, no-one ever got fired for hiring the Chancellors Father in Law.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: No brainer

      I think his wife has more shares in the company (last reported over £600m!)

  8. InITForTheMoney


    Once upon a time, 'Eg Reg' wouldn't have missed the opportunity to write Crapita instead of Capita. Either standards are slipping, or the world is becoming nostalgic for when services were only as bad as they were when Capita was running then.

  9. NightFox

    I'll bet that "Pointy-Bloke on Poster" and a few touring recruiting sergeants armed with the requisite paperwork came in at considerably less than £1.7bn and was demonstrably more successful.

  10. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Explanations are due ...

    "Capita's 2017 decision to implement bespoke IT systems led to nearly 25,000 fewer applications to join the military in the following year."

    Why should an application system result in an immediate drop in applicants? Was it because the MOD decided to digitise recruitment and people didn't want to apply online? Was it because the advertising was rubbish? Was it because kids could no longer "see the world" because there were no ships left? Was it because people were being routinely killed and maimed in Afghanistan so being a soldier was no longer the fun, heroic job it had been portrayed as? Was it because the Government shut down the job centres? Or was it because the online application system didn't work?

    Be interesting to see the analysis of why Capita is solely blamed for this (rightly or wrongly).

    1. Cuddles

      Re: Explanations are due ...

      El Reg has covered this previously. Capita certainly can't be blamed entirely (a large part of the issue seems to be the MoD not giving proper requirements or oversight), but issues with the system were so bad that the RAF had to stop recruitment entirely at one point until bugs could be fixed, while at other times recruits were unable to sign up, didn't receive necessary documents in time to start training, and even in the best case mostly took over a year to actually process applications.

      Note that the new system went live in 2017. Most of the systemic issues you mention might contribute to a gradual decline, but are unlikely to have resulted in a sudden drop at that time. I'm not aware of any major events towards the end of 2017 that would cast the armed forces in a particularly bad light, but having recruitment drop off exactly when the entire recruitment system is shut down because it's utterly buggered is a bit suggestive.

  11. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    This website sucks, full of americans, is american, and doesnt like it when criticism comes their way.

    Utter sociopaths

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Says guy with almost a thousand live comments

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      This website sucks, full of americans, is american, and doesnt like it when criticism comes their way.

      Utter sociopaths

      This is a very broad and vague comment. Which website? The MOD online application website or The Register (which technically is English, not American although everyone is pretty much welcome as long as they can read or write English, even reading or writing American is passable enough).

  12. Howard Sway Silver badge

    £1.7bn procurement for MOD recruitment

    Join the outsourced Army IT. Travel the world. Meet interesting people. And bill them.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: £1.7bn procurement for MOD recruitment

      There are 150,000 people in the UK armed forces, £1,700,000,000 to recruit them seems like rather a lot.

  13. MrNigel

    Tri-service nonsense

    I got a tear in my eye reading this article and remembering the tri-service MOD IT contract I worked on 30 years ago. The CHOTS contract attempted to get the three services using a common X.400+X.500 email platform with Uniplex Office Automation to replace the typewriters and Miss Moneypennys. A few weeks in I started picking up negative vibes from my heavy drinking MOD counterparts. They opined "This will never work out because the three services don't talk to each other full stop". 15 months later after a Friday evening board meeting BT withdrew their services as the MOD kept extending the 'trial period' of what was a fully functioning solution costing them £300K/month to run and the MOD £0. ICL got the contract and we all know how that panned out....

  14. R Soul Silver badge

    Another government IT fuck-up in the making

    The good news is Crapita won't get the contract. The bad news is it'll go to Fujitsu.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Another government IT fuck-up in the making

      In my dealings with Japanese electronics companies, lack of organisation and failure to deliver have never been major problems.

      Months of meetings about meetings, who will be present, who will present, making sure everybody is called "san" = yes. Totally project fsckup = no.

      How come the govt managed to find Fujitsu ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another government IT fuck-up in the making

        Historical momentum, maybe? Fujitsu took over ICL, the big British couldabeen IBM.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Another government IT fuck-up in the making

          Ah, defeat the Japanese by tricking them into taking over a British nationalised industry !

          A cunning plan worthy of a French car maker.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          ICL was never the big British couldabeen IBM and had no hope of ever doing that. It was a failed IBM wannabe. ICL was rubbish - the British Leyland of the computer industry. ICL was propped up by sales to the UK public sector who were forbidden to buy IBM. Why Fujistu ever bought it is a mystery.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: ICL

            Presumably so it had a lock on all future UK government contracts

  15. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge


    If this doesn't work, may be Parliament will look to see worked in the past...

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

Other stories you might like