EDS carpeted for struggling prison project
The Ministry of Justice has hauled in EDS for what promises to be a lively discussion about the future of the prisoner record programme.
The National Offender Management Information Service (NOMIS) was meant to provide a central database for offender records to link prisons and the probation service. Offenders would have one record throughout their sentence and probation period. In January this was radically cut back to exclude the probation service - so there will no longer be a single case management system.
The project was originally slated to cost £234m but this has gone the way of all government IT projects - by August 2007 it had doubled to £690m. Unions put that figure closer to £1bn.
The scheme is currently under the beady eye of the National Audit Office - its report is due in early 2009 and is expected to give the project a kicking. The NAO is looking at whether the initial programme was "realistic, well planned and well managed" as well as whether the best value for money option was chosen for the radically reduced programme.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Commercial negotiations with EDS are continuing regarding implementation and live service costs of Prison NOMIS.” ®
"How does one go about getting one of these contracts? Whenever I quote for a job, assuming the requirements don't change, the price doesn't either."
the clue is in the question, THE REQUIREMENTS ALWAYS CHANGE.
Sometimes the requirements change too dramatically.
Fujitsu said no:
Have EDS delivered any Gov projects on time and to budget with good quality etc?
Yes, the ESA project, Employment Support Allowance. Now seen as a flagship and example of how things can be done right.
Of course this is because most of the staff were ex civs that knew the system backwards.
Many of whom face redundancy now. I guess the ESA releases after we get laid off may be more like EDS's preferred outcome, a disasterous moneysink.
AC because, well, it's obvious.
Mines the one with the CV in the pocket.
Standard Government contract...
Generally speaking, Government projects that go this wrong are very poorly specified or very poorly managed, sometimes both.
Add in the possibility that EDS hasn't put the right resources in at the right time - a frequent problem when I was there was that you'd end up with people working in completely unsuitable positions just so that they were 'chargeable' - with no training or intent of training by the company.
And don't forget that EDS would have won the business with a rock-bottom price and a contract that penalised change with lots of extra charges. Standard practice for consultancies bidding for government projects these days. I've worked with others (Capita, CapGemini to name but two) and they are all cut from the same cloth.
Things will not improve unless and until the government changes they way they specify their requirements (involve the end users from the beginning) and manage change. Then you'll be able to see when the problem is down to supplier incompetence (that is, PM incompetence).
And to all those people who say 'I could do that for 100k' - you couldn't. Even when the software is relatively simple, the infrastructure, support, disaster recovery and security requirements are never simple for a government contract, and everything has to be documented in detail and reviewed and approved by other consultancies retained by the government for this purpose. Of course, they have to prove their worth by finding issues even when there may be none (you know who you are).
Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending crap management or flawed technical implementation but I've seen enough government projects to know that most of the time it is down to bad management and/or customer interference.