Feeds

UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco

'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A government body tasked with flagging up troublesome Whitehall projects has been accused of secrecy and ineptitude over its handling of the Department for Work and Pensions' widely panned Universal Credit programme.

MPs sitting on the Public Account Committee said in a report published today that the Major Projects Authority, established by the Tory-led Coalition in 2011, was failing to adequately admonish ministers and top civil servants over spending decisions made for crashingly expensive IT schemes.

Unsurprisingly, the one-dole-to-rule-them-all programme steered by Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith was singled out by the panel's chair Labour politico Margaret Hodge.

"We are particularly concerned that the decision to award a 'reset' rating to the Universal Credit project may have been an attempt to keep information secret and prevent scrutiny," the MP warned.

In May, the MPA – which was created to improve project deployments across Whitehall in partnership with the Cabinet Office, the Treasury and with the blessing of the Prime Minister – cobbled together a new "reset" category for Universal Credit. It explained at the time:

The "reset" category has been applied to the Universal Credit project. We have undertaken significant work to develop a "reset plan" to place the roll-out of Universal Credit on a more secure footing, and the "reset" DCA [delivery confidence assessment] reflects this new status of the project.

Worse still, the project will not be flagged with a relevant green, amber or red alert from the MPA until May next year, arguably leaving the Universal Credit programme free of proper scrutiny just at the time when MPs are calling for more details about an IT scheme that has appeared doomed since its inception.

The system has been dogged with technical problems leading to millions of pounds being written off by the government.

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee complained today that the MPA failed to release enough spending information on projects at regular intervals.

It said:

The government’s transparency policy is too restrictive as it prevents useful data sets, such as the amount spent so far, from being published and stipulates that major project data can only be published once a year. This is too infrequent and means that the data available on high-profile, high-cost projects can be significantly out-of-date.

Hodge and her colleagues urged the MPA to publish its findings "more frequently" and provide greater detail on individual programmes such as Universal Credit "even if this means reviewing the government's transparency policy," the committee said. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.