Feeds

Student loan system failure could happen again

Watchdog warns as SLC handles double apps

Application security programs and practises

An investigation into the failure of the Student Loan Company to properly process applications has revealed the disaster could be repeated later this year.

Spending watchdog the National Audit Office said that failures of oversight from the company's board, and from Mandelson's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills meant the difficulties and risks of the project were underestimated.

The NAO warned that the company is expected to process twice as many applications this year with no proof that it will be able to provide a decent service.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The question must be asked how the Company, given its failure in 2009, will deal with twice as many applications in 2010, when it becomes responsible for applications from both first and second year students. The Department and the Company must give the highest priority to achieving a radical improvement in the service..."

The NAO found the SLC launched its document scanning system without properly testing it. When it failed the contingency plan was both inadequate and implemented late. These failures led to a backlog of paper applications which the company failed to store in a way which meant they could be easily retrieved.

A new system is due to go live this month. The NAO said the SLC believed it had carried out enough testing and backup planning but it had "been over-optimistic in the past and it remains to be seen whether the system will operate satisfactorily in a live environment in peak months".

By the start of term all these problems meant the SLC had processed less than half of the applications. The company failed to tell students what was going on, an action which would have reduced pressure on its call centres. It also failed to talk to universities and colleges.

The NAO said the SLC board failed to oversee the process and was unaware of problems until it was too late.

The Customer First Programme board also lacked expertise. It was chaired by the Department, with a representative from the SLC and one from HMRC. It had no experience of delivering such a big centralisation project, no IT experience and no finance or human resources expertise. The NAO recommended recruiting better board members

The Department also failed to monitor the SLC. The company failed to deliver value for money. It took a third longer to process applications than the local authorities which it replaced.

More from the NAO available here. ®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.