MPs bitchslap MoD mega-IT architecture project
It's EDS, it's the gov - it must be a disaster
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, famous for its stinging attacks on expensive government technology projects, has issued some relatively mild criticism of the ongoing Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) mega-IT push at the Ministry of Defence.
The parliamentary report, now available to read online (pdf), offers 11 main conclusions. The headliners are these: the DII is running late, by about 18 months; more than half the machinery is still to be delivered, but only a third of the "risk funding" money - intended to cover unforeseen emergencies - is left; and at the moment there is only enough cash to buy 140,000 terminals rather than the 150,000 the MoD says it needs.
The MPs also offered some criticism of the way the project has been run, saying there should have been a pilot project first. They say that running such a pilot would have prevented the programme being as far behind time as it is now. The parliamentarians also say that plans thus far haven't tied in well enough with those of the Defence Estates - the people who manage the MoD's buildings and property.
In addition to all this, the Committee members appear to have been following the news lately. They note that "the ATLAS consortium’s record of delivering software on time is not good" - by which they mean EDS, the main member of the ATLAS combine, which has seen high-profile nightmares in other major government projects for other departments.
According to the MPs:
Despite recent successes, large parts of the original requirement are still missing. Many of ATLAS’ initial designs have been of a poor quality, which has forced the Department to increase its scrutiny of them. If the level of design errors increases again, the Department should reintroduce more onerous scrutiny and should not accept claims for increased costs that ATLAS incurs as a result.
It's plain, reading the report, that the MPs expected the MoD to be full of ire against EDS, and are mildly frustrated that in fact the Ministry men are cautiously pleased with the way things are going. The MPs nonetheless are full of dire warnings, suggesting that EDS will surely seek to rook the government out of extra funds soon.
They also say that "the Department currently has an undesirable record on data security when it should be amongst the best in Government", though that statement - based on a recent spate of media stories about lost laptops, memory sticks etc - can't as yet be tied to the DII.
The Ministry, for its part, says that there's no need to worry about the risk budget being two-thirds gone at this point as it is normal for emergencies to appear early rather than late in a project. They say they can't comment about how well EDS has done for other departments, but they see their own dealings with the contractor as "something of a model".
It was also noted that the projected shortfall of 10,000 terminals might not be that much of a bother, given the MoD's ongoing attempts to trim down its legions of backoffice staff in Whitehall and elsewhere. As of now, according to the MoD, the real shortfall is 6,000 and falling.
It's worth noting that a report last July by the National Audit Office offered a similar picture to that given today by the PAC, but was noticeably more positive about it. The NAO beancounters forbore to add notes on security breaches and EDS' relationship with other departments. They said the project was late, but costs had "largely" been controlled and equipment was functional.
On the old adage of "on time, on budget, to spec - pick any two", it would be possible to say that the DII appears to be offering an acceptable performance so far, if not a sparkling one. Whether this will continue, or whether the MoD too will see its ambitious IT plans spiral out of control, only time will tell. ®
The whole project is a farce. The end result will be a 5bn+ email system. Sure, it will run Office apps but for any serious work, there will be parallel systems developed with local administrators rather than the remote administration teams that ATLAS want to deploy. Every desktop will have at least two workstations.
EDS get the contracts because the put together very large case studies and the MoD love paperwork. EDS gets contracts because they make deals with Government (Re: Tax office) for contracts. EDS gets contracts because 'It's better the devil you know'
ATLAS were 'suprised' by the level of change to the project. Really? Both EDS and Fujitsu have provided services to MoD and should have more of a clue. The reason they don't is that the upper management do not communicate with the staff, the staff know that there would be a lot more change if the sytems were fully utilised. The systems controlled by EDS and Fujitsu are, primarily email networks. That was not their initial intention but that's how they are used now. They were originally installed to be complete Office Automation systems, what tends to happen now is the locally controlled system with all the gucci tools is used to produce material which is the imported to the wider networks and emailed to the recipient.
I'm sure someone high up in the MoD procurement chain is in for a lovely directorship. The question is, was it worth 5bn+ and all that disruption?
2 years late is nearer and still slipping sideways. Since the HP takeover there have been continual and ongoing redundancies so the slippage will only get worse. Many of the applications developed by departments for specific purposes won't run on DII(F) and the MoD is now saying there's no money to fund residual services. EDS is a shambolic joke of a company and the mess they're making is pathetic. Often the service being offered by DII(F) is worse than the service being replaced. Thank the gods I've been made redundant - I can't wait to get out.
"I have been contracting on the DII roll out for nearly 3 years now and the view of myself and most of the other contractors here is that the longer it takes the better !!
i only came in for 3 months and i have been told i am looking at another 2 recession proof years long live Atlas we say
mines the one with the keys to the new Merc in the pocket"
That's great, people like you paste a great image for the contracting sector! You plank!
I hope you get your contract terminated.