back to article Fujitsu wins flood contract extension despite starring in TV drama about its failures

The UK's Environment Agency has awarded Fujitsu – the tech biz embroiled in the high-profile Post Office scandal – a £2 million contract extension to run the flood warning system after apparent delays to finding a replacement supplier. post office sign Fujitsu bags £142M UK government work since Horizon probe announced READ …

  1. steamnut

    Historical effects.

    Fujitsu rebranded our less then wonderful computing company ICL in 2002.

    When I was in IBM I was approached to join ICL. Apart from the crap car offered and less than sparkling pay package, I was also informed that I might have to join a union. At that point I declined the offer.

    I think Fujitsu was also blamed for a DWP problem over more than £1bn of state pensions not being paid.

    Why does our Government still use them at all?

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Historical effects.

      Apart from the crap car offered

      Today you are lucky if you get £50 towards a new bicycle.

      I might have to join a union

      Well, if more IT workers joined unions we most likely wouldn't have crap salaries we have today.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Yoshi

        Re: Historical effects.

        Which unions would you recommend for IT workers?

        1. short a sandwich

          Re: Historical effects.

          Unite will see you right on representation. There's sections from the oldTGWU that were staff/office workers.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Historical effects.

          Two UK unions for programmers are UTAW and Prospect. IWGB if you're a game dev.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Historical effects.

            Prospect - Nominated (by me, just now) as the weakest and most useless union in the country.

            Most of its members have (under government "austerity measures" etc) tolerated a 1% cap on annual average pay rises for the last 10+ years, including the recent inflationary period

      3. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Historical effects.

        I asked them for help recently for my situation. No unions recognised at the place, HR never in 5 years explained what this meant. Found I was still entitled to join a union so did. Been on my own for 6 months doing job of 2 engineers. Union was interested to get me to join. Since then I've heard fuck all from them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Historical effects.

          I expect if you didn't pay your subs, they will be in contact!

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Historical effects.

      I believe Fujitsu also made the computer system the DWP used to identify benefit claimants who were supposedly not in the UK during Covid so that their benefits could be clawed back. Naturally this has been a massive fuckup and stung innocent people.

    4. xyz123 Silver badge

      Re: Historical effects.

      Fun Fact: Allegations abound that Fujitsu STOLE almost £780 million of the unpaid state pensions by simply withholding money until people were dead.

      Once you have sufficient data, its very easy to find those vulnerable people near end-of-life, without relatives that will complain, and simply steal their penions, redirecting the money into execs bank accounts.

      1. Probie

        Re: Historical effects.

        I am not saying Fujisti did not screw up or that they did, but how did Fujitsu STEAL anything? Its the DWP that pay the money, and the DWP that would benefit from not paying the money surely?

    5. ScottishYorkshireMan

      Re: Historical effects.

      Probably because they make bungs to Tory Funds...

      https://www.ukpol.co.uk/political-donations-database-fujitsu-services-ltd-to-conservative-and-unionist-party/

    6. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Re: Historical effects.

      The problem is that a lot of our government departmental IT, while it has nice looking user interfaces, uses sometimes quite elderly mainframes on the back end. Replacing these would involve significant cost, and cause significant disruption, so they tend to repair them when they fail, and upgrade them slightly to connect to more modern systems. This may involve purchasing new machines or parts for existing machines.

      The problem is, pretty much the only mainframe manufacturer left is Fujitsu. So, they get the contract more or less by default, because the various government departments probably don't have the money or the resources to rip out and replace their core IT infrastructure. Even if they do, and possibly migrate their mainframes to the cloud, they may still need Fujitsu to help get the data and software off the old machines.

      Personally, I think whoever allowed the mainframe industry to effectively become a monopoly was an idiot, and Fujitsu should have been stopped from buying up pretty much all the competition.

      1. kjhenmb

        Re: Historical effects.

        Life long Mainframer here!

        Just wanted to point out for balance regarding mainframes in general (not limited to Government mainframes, which I know nothing about), my entire career, the mainframes I've worked on have been state of the art hardware. I've never seen an elderly mainframe, as everywhere I've worked has always kept them up to date, and the tech in each new mainframe is amazing.

        There are no limitations forcing mainframes to be "old". Totally modern hardware, totally modern software (don't confuse software with a long heritage with being out of date).

        You say pretty much the only mainframe manufacturer left is Fujitsu, which I guess is related to the mainframe architecture that the government IT uses, but again just wanted to point out that there are other mainframe manufacturers - if any company has a mainframe monopoly, it's IBM.

        "Even if they do, and possibly migrate their mainframes to the cloud..."

        The rush for Clou-tsourcing in crazy in my opinion. Seems to be top of every senior execs agenda to outsource as much to the cloud as possible, and yet most of the major incidents I see nearly always involve a 3rd party outsourcer, and comments such as "awaiting xxxx for an update". Nobody will ever care about your IT like your own employees - and mostly employees do actually care about the systems for the company they are employed by.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flood Warning

    >snappily called the Next Flood Warning System

    Which, presumably, arrives just after the Last Flood Warning System is forgotten?

  3. ChrisElvidge

    Horizon

    What appears to be coming out in the wash is that although Horizon was not reliable, the main cause of losses was the overnight corrections made by Fujitsu employees even though the Post Office stated several times that remote access to PO systems was impossible.

    1. a_builder

      Re: Horizon

      Exactly so.

      Also the ability to falsify the audit trail - as the logins appeared to be the poor old postmaster. That sounds a lot like conspiracy to defraud and false accounting to me.

      1. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

        Re: Horizon

        So makes you wonder how this was designed. Can’t recall what was around in late 90s but sounds like MS Access running on the local computer with roll ups to a central database of some kind. Sounds like no authentication or logging for who did what. Any why would anyone want to remotely access and fiddle with a given terminal? So many questions.

        1. Killfalcon Silver badge

          Re: Horizon

          That's what bugs me about it - what did they think they were doing? Was the system just wonky, needing constant manual intervention, and sometimes the manual fixes were done wrong?

          Was money lost, and by whom? Were the 'shortfalls' entirely virtual, were there unexplained surpluses elsewhere in the system matching them off?

          1. cyberdemon Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Horizon

            What bugs ME about it was why were the errors always in the post office's favour? If it was random errors caused by fields not updating etc, then there would have been discrepancies both ways. But this seemed to be a systematic error that always resulted in losses for SPMs and profits for the Post Office.

            Given that the PO knew full well that the subpostmasters were under contract to make up any shortfall in the records that -they- could alter with no traceability, and that they had the right to bring their own criminal prosecution against people without involving the police or the CPS, then there would seem to be a means, motive and opportunity for deliberately stealing from their subpostmasters and framing them for the crime.

            Never mind whatsername's OBE, i'd be more interested in an investigation of David Smith, Horizon programme manager and then managing director, who celebrated when Seema Misra was jailed on her son's birthday while 8 weeks pregnant

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Horizon

              > What bugs ME about it was why were the errors always in the post office's favour?

              Because I expect the PO fraud team were looking out for particular negative discrepancies they would associate with monies being extracted, then jumping to conclusions…

        2. desht

          Re: Horizon

          Have a read of this witness statement: https://www.postofficehorizoninquiry.org.uk/evidence/witn00620100-david-mcdonnell-witness-statement

          And then you'll realise that wasn't really designed at all, more cobbled together by cowboy developers, and defended by a bunch of management bastards who knew full well it wasn't fit for purpose.

          1. cyberdemon Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Horizon

            Good lord.

            When the most qualified guy in the team, (presumably, since he is complaining about the lack of qualifications and competence in the rest of the team), has a BSc from Sheffield Poly, you know it's bad.

          2. Martin Gregorie

            Re: Horizon

            This witness statement WITN00620100 David McDonnell - Witness Statement_0.pdf is most interesting: thanks for posting the link. It confirms my guesses about HORIZON's documentation by stating that there was:

            * No written Statement of Requirements was issued by the Royal Mail, just verbal acceptance of a prototyped demo system written by Fujitsu

            * No signed off HORIZON System Design document.

            * No Acceptance Testing Specification was written by the Royal Mail and no acceptance testing was done by the RM before HORIZON went live

            Thankfully, I've never been involved in any system development with such poor management or so much interference from external actors.

            I'd recommend every professional developer to download, save and read a copy the above Witness statement because it is an absolutely stellar example of how NOT to develop any computer application.

  4. James Anderson

    Failure of mainstream media.

    While el reg,computer weekly and (god bless them) private eye all plugged away at exposing the vicious lies, false accusations and cover ups by the Post Office and Fujitsu the mainstream media was silent.

    Only when convictions were overturned some 10 years later was there any coverage in the national newspapers or TV news.

    Perhaps someone could call out the smug presenters on ITV's good moaning britain, they seem to monitor. Thier X feed.

    So if any of you still have an X account give it a go.

  5. Martin Gregorie

    A longish stretch, but...

    Having just read "His Majesty's Airship", I'm struck by similarities between 1930's R.101 airship crash and the Horizon fiasco. These are all failures of the respective project managements. In both cases the management failure to see and deal with problems such as inadequate or omitted testing before putting the respective projects into service are quite striking.

    At least the R.101 crash eliminated virtually all those responsible for causing the crash (they were on board it at the time) while their Horizon equivalents seem to have got away without any penalties.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A longish stretch, but...

      there is an excellent podcast series on BBC sounds called cautionary tales and one episode is all about the R100 v R101 "scandal"

      1. H in The Hague
        Pint

        Re: A longish stretch, but...

        "there is an excellent podcast series on BBC sounds called cautionary tales"

        Thanks for the tip! Some interesting programmes. And by Tim Harford, my favourite FT columnist.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A longish stretch, but...

          NP its very good the one about the radiology machine in Brazil is a shocking story and one I have heard about before. The pepsi story is quite entertaining ;-)

  6. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C
    Trollface

    Take a look on the bright side

    Every contract that gets given to Fujitsu is a contract that doesn't get given to Crapita.

  7. short a sandwich
    FAIL

    Due Diligence?

    How are we still employing this criminally negligent contractor?

  8. Mr Dogshit

    "the Japanese tech maker"

    What's Japanese about them? It's the remnants of ICL.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "the Japanese tech maker"

      For all intents and purposes ICL was Fujitsu in all but name from the mid nineties onwards. They just chose to rebrand in 2002.

      As that's coming up to 30 years ago there would be very few ex ICL left except pensioners ( which as a scheme was very competitive, thanks).

      As and when the public enquiry aportions responsibility ( blame) it should be apparent that despite whatever shortcomings are put on Fujitsu it was not them who pursued the the sub postmasters. It has been the Post Office/Royal Mail organisation.

      It seems very shaky ground for IT competents to not consider the ramifications if they were held accountable for a customers use/miss use of a product the customer had specified and managed.

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Re: "the Japanese tech maker"

        Hmm.

        It seems that Fujitsu likely knew the system was broken in ways that could harm the post office - the sodding cash management bit was broken, that's never going to be good - but as you say, they didn't force the PO to hound people to suicide instead of doing the sensible thing and _suing Fujitsu_ for their botched development.

        That said, Fujitsu sent expert witnesses to those court cases, and allegedly participated in the cover-up. Those actions are somewhat more obviously their fault.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fujitsu vs Capita vs IBM

    If it weren't for failed government/NHS IT initiatives, none of these three could continue to exist

  10. Noonoot

    Someone's pockets being lined

    Someone asked why government continues to offer contracts to companies who have proved to fail in the past. See title line. It's obvious.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why these utter shisters at fushitsu are still allowed to bid for government contracts God only knows. If you haven't watched the ITV program than do so, it is shameful what went on. And there must be some fushitsu staff on here that worked on horizon it would be interesting to know what REALLY went on, its bound to be worse than what was portrayed on the telly. How those degenerates in senior positions at the Post office and fushitsu haven't served time is another is a disgrace. Still there is a real groundswell of opinion mounting and I believe the police are investigating possible criminal charges, but I expect it'll be another Hillsborough where no one is actually punished.

    And a question for the Rev Vennells, what would Jesus have done?!

  12. steviebuk Silver badge

    Lessons have been learnt

    No they haven't. Should of happened years ago but all Fujitsu contracts should of been checked and either cancelled or never renewed. This just proves the government still gives no shits and Rishi now is just using it to score political points in an election year.

  13. itzumee

    I'm sure I read somewhere that £1 billion was spent on Horizon, I was talking about this with my work colleagues recently and we came to the conclusion that a system like that shouldn't cost anything near that figure and that if we had that sort of budget for a project, we'd deliver something absolutely amazing.

    Why does the government's choice of IT supplier seem to be restricted to Crapita, Fujitsu and IBM? Why don't they set up their own IT department to take the stuff in-house?

  14. s. pam Silver badge
    Stop

    Opening the floodgates to hell

    One can but imagine when massive flooding comes after a Fujitsu BSOD style incident they'll be blaming everyone else in the supply chain!

  15. JT_3K

    That's a hell of a read. Thanks.

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