Articles about Nao oughta get its data-sharing house in order before Digital Economy Bill plans

Analysis The government has a funny notion of how to tackle failure. When it comes to contracts, suppliers that have routinely messed up are handed more deals. When it comes to policy, approaches that have proved unsuccessful get dusted off and pushed with renewed vigour. The author who wrote "the definition of insanity is doing the …
Kat Hall, 19 Sep 2016
Metropolitan police image via Shutterstock

'Inherent risk' to untried and untested 4G emergency services network – NAO

Plans for a new 4G emergency services network (ESN) to be used in life and death situations by the blue light services have been dubbed as "high risk," in a report from the National Audit Office today. The ESN will replace the expensive Airwave radio system used by the police, fire and ambulance services. It is expected to …
Kat Hall, 15 Sep 2016
Defeated-looking young man puts his head against table in front of laptop and pile of papers in conference room. Pic via Shutterstock

So, Gov.UK infosec in 2015. 'Chaotic'. Cost £300m. NINE THOUSAND data breaches...

The Cabinet Office is failing to coordinate the UK's government departments' efforts to protect their information according to a damning report by the National Audit Office. The NAO found that the Cabinet Office failed in its duty and ambition to coordinate and lead government departments’ efforts in protecting such …

BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

Updated The BBC's creepy detector vans will be dragged into the 21st century to sniff Brits' home Wi-Fi networks, claims the UK Daily Telegraph's Saturday splash. From September 1, you'll need a telly licence if you stream catch-up or on-demand TV from the BBC's iPlayer service, regardless if you've got a television set or not – phone …
Chris Williams, 06 Aug 2016

Top IT bod Sally Howes leaves the UK's National Audit Office

Sally Howes, the executive lead at the UK National Audit Office responsible for working with departments on their IT programmes, has stepped down after six years in the role. Howes joined the NAO in 2010 as a director, and was appointed executive leader with responsibility for digital and innovation in 2013. She also oversaw …
Kat Hall, 19 Jul 2016
Doctor Who, Season 9 – Heaven Sent. Pic credit: BBC

BBC post-Savile culture change means staff can 'speak truth to power'

In the post-Savile BBC era staff won't be punished for "speaking truth to power" – one of the main issues behind the canned £126m Digital Media Initiative, director general of the BBC Tony Hall told MPs. Appearing in front of a Parliamentary select committee on the BBC’s critical projects, Hall said: "One of the things that …
Kat Hall, 26 May 2016
Man exasperated after being on hold for a long period of time. Photo by Shutterstock

Geniuses at HMRC sack too many staff! Nope, can't do it online. FAIL

HMRC was too hasty to cut staff before expected cost savings from a shift to digital materialised – something that should act as a cautionary tale for its current "digitisation" plans, the National Audit Office has warned. Between 2010/11 and 2014/15, HMRC cut staff in its personal tax department from 26,000 to 15,000. But …
Kat Hall, 25 May 2016

Shared services centres supposed to save £128m saved £0... and cost £4m

Moves to shift departments' back office servers and ERP systems into two privately owned shared services centres - which had been touted as set to save the taxpayer £128m - have failed to prove "value for money", according to a report by the National Audit Office. The shared services centres, run separately by IT provider …
Kat Hall, 20 May 2016

Remember when said it would give big biz contracts to SMEs?

The Cabinet Office has lost its enthusiasm for prising open Whitehall's wallet and handing more cash to SMEs, according to a report by the Committee of Public Accounts today. Back in 2010, the government pledged to carve off 25 per cent of its £45bn spend in goods and services to small businesses. But today the committee said …
Kat Hall, 18 May 2016
Peter Capaldi as Dr Who. Credit: BBC

At the BBC, Agile means 'making it up as we go along'

A £75m “Agile” BBC IT project has evaded scrutiny because managers could make up the benefits as they went along, according to the spending watchdog the National Audit Office. Any likelihood of the project achieving savings is now officially rated as “in doubt” by the BBC’s own project monitoring. Since the costly failure of …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 May 2016
Test robot instructs buttock touch

Humans get 'aroused' fondling robots in their private areas – study

Video A study by Stanford University has shown that human volunteers demonstrated "physiological arousal" when a robot instructed them to touch it up. The research found humans instructed to touch a two-foot tall robot on the buttocks or eyes had a measurable increase in skin conductance, a sign of emotional arousal. They were also …
Iain Thomson, 05 Apr 2016

Carving up the IT contract behind £500bn of annual tax collection is a very risky move

Analysis The thankless nature of IT service provision is often demonstrated by the fact users only tend to notice it when it goes wrong: if there's no screaming, then it's working fine. In that respect, at least, HM Revenue and Customs' £10bn IT contract with Capgemini and Fujitsu has been a success. Particularly if one considers the …
Kat Hall, 04 Apr 2016
Still from the company's catalogue showing woman scientist in lab

NAO slates's 'haphazard' sci-tech money-chuck plan

The National Audit Office has criticised the haphazard approach of the department for Business, Innovation and Skills in how it invests its multi-billion funds in big science projects, such as supercomputers. BIS has overall control of the government's expenditure on science, technology and engineering. The department is to …
Kat Hall, 10 Mar 2016
IBM-powered Connie robot

IBM pimps Watson out to Hilton robot for concierge duty

Pics and video Big Blue is making another effort to make a business case for the Watson deep learning system, this time by porting it to a robot concierge in the Hilton McLean in Virginia. The robot, dubbed Connie after the Hilton founder, is an off-the-shelf Nao machine from French manufacturer Aldebaran Robotics, linked wirelessly to …
Iain Thomson, 09 Mar 2016

Audit Office pours cold water on's SME spending target claims

Claims the government beat its target to pump more than 25 per cent of its largesse through SMEs in the last Parliament have today been critiqued by the National Audit Office, which says "it cannot be certain" spending increased at all over that period. In February 2015, the government reported that it had met its 2010 SME …
Kat Hall, 09 Mar 2016

Flinging £700m at courts' IT won't increase efficiency, says NAO

An ambitious plan to modernise Blighty's criminal justice system via a £700m digitisation programme will not cure its increasing inefficiencies, a government spending watchdog report has found. According to a report by the National Audit Office today, the £2bn annual spend on the justice system is "not currently delivering …
Kat Hall, 01 Mar 2016
Iain Duncan Smith. Pic: Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Three-years-late fit-to-work IT tool will cost taxpayers £76m

A delayed IT system developed by the Department for Work and Pensions for its controversial benefits assessment contracts has cost the taxpayer £76m due to benefits assessments having to be done manually, according to a report by the National Audit Office. Outsourcers Capita, Maximus and Atos were awarded the deal for …
Kat Hall, 08 Jan 2016

A third of big projects will fail in next five years, warns NAO

Blighty's spending watchdog has warned that one third of the government's major projects due to be delivered over the next five years are on track to fail. The National Audit Office said, in its progress report on major government projects, that 37 out of the 106 projects due to finish by 2021 are "in doubt or unachievable if …
Kat Hall, 06 Jan 2016

Assessing the UK’s Government Digital Service

The Year in Review For the Government Digital Service, 2015 has been a year of challenge and uncertainty. Many issues have dogged the body, but some of the most high profile included the £215m IT fiasco for farmers' rural payment allowances and the departure of Mike Bracken, the man whose name has become synonymous with the body, amid rumours that …
Kat Hall, 27 Dec 2015
Three  UK Passports

MPs question value of canning Raytheon from e-borders

MPs have questioned the value of terminating the Home Office's £500m e-borders contract with its supplier Raytheon, with questions remaining as to whether the £303m spent on its in-house successor programme will deliver. In March the Home Office finally agreed to hand over £150m to defence company Raytheon over the dispute …
Kat Hall, 17 Dec 2015
Two vets, two farmers and one bull in a field

MPs slam gov heads over 'childishness' on failed farmer IT project

Senior UK government officials were hauled in front of MPs yesterday to defend their deeply "dysfunctional" and "childish" behaviour, which contributed to the botched £215m Common Agricultural Policy IT system, and up to £180m in EU fines. Government Chief Technology Officer Liam Maxwell from the Government Digital Service, …
Kat Hall, 10 Dec 2015

NAO slams £830m e-Borders IT project as ‘not value for money’

The UK government's spending watchdog has slammed the £830m, 12-year e-Borders project – intended to collect details from passenger lists of all people entering and leaving the UK – as having failed to deliver value for money. “The e-Borders programme began in 2003, with an ambition which has remained largely unchanged in the …
Kat Hall, 03 Dec 2015
Free range chicken and farmer photo via Shutterstock

UK will pay EU £180m in fines due to botched CAP IT system – NAO

The UK may have to pay Europe up to £180m per year in fines due to the botched implementation of the 'digital by default' IT system for farmers' Common Agricultural Payments - the National Audit Office has said today. In March this year plans to make the system online-only were scrapped following the failure of the online …
Kat Hall, 01 Dec 2015
Whitehall road sign. Sgt Tom Robinson RLC/Crown copyright

So, GDS saved Brits £1.7bn through 'digital transformation'. Sure about that?

Analysis Claims that the Government Digital Services saved the taxpayer £1.7bn during the last Parliament through "digital transformation" have been repeated so frequently of late, it seems the figure will go down as the main business case for the body's existence over the last Parliament. This is particularly true with the exodus of …
Kat Hall, 16 Oct 2015

NHS IT failures mount as GP data system declared unfit for purpose

The towering scrapheap of NHS IT failures may about to rise further, with the increasingly expensive GP Extraction Service IT system deemed not fit for purpose by the government's spending watchdog. Costs for the GPES IT system, which is supposed to extract data from all GP practices in England, have ballooned from £14m to £40m …
Kat Hall, 02 Jul 2015
Downing Street road sign

More suppliers join flagging GOV.UK Verify ID assurance scheme

In an attempt to inject some life into its ailing GOV.UK Verify identity assurance scheme, the government has today broadened the range of suppliers on the programme's framework. The scheme is intended to act as an identity assurance "marketplace", allowing users to choose from a range of identity providers to authenticate …
Kat Hall, 25 Mar 2015

Gov departments still splashing BILLIONS on big-ticket IT projects

Big Whitehall departments got the green light to splash more than a billion pounds on IT projects last year, data analysis by The Register can reveal. A total of £1.4bn was handed out to the six largest government departments according to their spend exemption data, which is made available as part of the government's commitment …
Kat Hall, 10 Mar 2015
francis_maude_flames_evil prompt payment promise is POPPYCOCK - NAO

Government is falling short in its commitment to settle debts with SME suppliers inside 30 days, putting some cash-strapped firms at risk of making redundancies. A report by the National Audit Office revealed central government spends £40bn a year on goods and services, of which about £4.5bn is spent directly with SMEs. An …
Kat Hall, 08 Jan 2015

Car-crash IT: HUGE write-off for Universal Credit - PAC

Just £34m of IT investment will be re-usable from more than £600m spent on the Universal Credit car-crash IT programme "if" a digital version of the system ever arrives, a Public Accounts Committee hearing has indicated. "The truth is of what we've invested in live, only £34m will go over to digital," said PAC chair Margaret …
Kat Hall, 11 Dec 2014
Downing Street road sign

Must diarise: Verify ID system will 'definitely' work by 2016

The government insists it will meet its 2016 deadline for all digital services to be underpinned by its gaffe-prone identity assurance system, GOV.UK Verify – despite having failed to move off the increasingly vulnerable Gateway system. By March 2016 the Government Digital Service intends all departments to have integrated …
Kat Hall, 09 Dec 2014
Fail whale

'Identity skills shortage' will be problematic for Verify ID. (So not the TECH FAILS, then?)

Departments must "work closely" with the Government Digital Service to ensure the ambitious pan-Whitehall identity assurance target of 2016 can be met, The National Audit Office has said. This is despite the fact the Verify identity assurance tool has so far had a shaky start. Last month a beta test of the tool drew many …
Kat Hall, 04 Dec 2014

Japanese monster manifests new PETAFLOP POWER

Japan's ATERUI supercomputer has had its capacity doubled, leading the National Astronomical Observatory (NAO) of Japan to claim that it's currently word's the most power astronomical HPC facility. At Japan's Centre for Computational Astrophysics, ATERIU was already a top-100 machine, but the NAO says the CPU-replacement took it …
Downing Street road sign

Universal Credit CRISIS: Up to £200m in IT spend WASTED – NAO

Around £219m in IT investments in the much-maligned Universal Credit programme may be written off, a National Audit Office report has revealed today. To date, £344m in IT investment has been sunk into the programme, but just £125m of those assets are currently in use. The NAO revealed the department has written off a further £ …
Kat Hall, 26 Nov 2014

Fujitsu and Capgemini's giga-quid HMRC lashup given drubbing by govt auditors

In yet another example of a sprawling government contract gone monumentally wrong – the second of the day – HMRC has splashed £7.9bn on an IT outsourcing deal that is looking very tough to justify. Capgemini and Fujitsu won the ten-year Aspire deal – a merged Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise contract – way back in 2004, and …
Paul Kunert, 22 Jul 2014
Electronic waste dump in China

Home Office threw £347m in the bin on failed asylum processing IT project

The Home Office frittered away hundreds of millions of taxpayer pounds on a botched tech project designed to manage immigration and asylum applications, a National Audit Office report has revealed. The "flagship" IT programme, the Immigration Case Work computer system, was launched in 2010 to replace fragmented systems and pull …
Paul Kunert, 22 Jul 2014

NAO slaps down Cabinet Office gov-IT savings claims AGAIN

There are lies, damned lies and Cabinet Office statistics which give the impression that the Efficiency and Reform Group are achieving much more dramatic ICT savings than they actually are. Or so says a National Audit Office report, which again criticised the processes used to calculate how much money Government Digital Services …
Paul Kunert, 17 Jul 2014
MP Margaret Hodge in the Commons

MPs blast HMRC for using anti-terrorism laws against whistleblower

The chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge has said she was "shocked to her bone" that the tax authority used laws put in place to combat terrorism to investigate an employee after he blew the whistle on a deal to let Goldman Sachs cut £8m to £20m from its tax bill. The MP challenged the chief exec of HMRC, Lin …
The buttons on a mobile phone glow in the dark

4G auction helped keep mobile networks competitive ... for NOW

The auctioning off of radio spectrum for the delivery of "4G" mobile broadband services did not result in the distortion of competition in the market, a spending watchdog has said. The National Audit Office (NAO) said that the 4G auction run by the UK's telecoms regulator Ofcom last year achieved one of its two main objectives …
OUT-LAW.COM, 14 Mar 2014
Doctor Who and Sarah

SCRAP the TELLY TAX? Ancient BBC Time Lords mull Beeb's future

It was as good as anything on the telly. Four past BBC chiefs were giving MPs their opinions at Westminster. The Commons media select committee is running an enquiry into the future of the BBC, looking at how it should be governed, and as technology and habits change, whether should there even be a per-household fee levied on …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Feb 2014
MP Margaret Hodge in the Commons

MP 'shocked' at failures 'at the top' of the BBC over epic DMI tech fail

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has said that the failure of the BBC to realise that its Digitial Media Initiative uber-project was headed for certain doom went "right to the top". Hodge, who is due to quiz senior members of the Beeb again on Monday next week, said that she was shocked by the …
Delia Derbyshire tweaks a Jason oscillator

BBC Trust: 'LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING' to this DMI mega-tech FAIL

The BBC failed to heed warnings given as early as 2010 that its Digital Media Initiative uber-project was vague and getting nowhere - according to the National Audit Office, which published its investigation into the disaster today. Executives at the Beeb's finance committee, its executive committee and the BBC Trust all …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2014

CEO of bloated outsourcing firm Capita quits after 26 years

Fat cat chief exec Paul Pinder is to quit after 26 years at outsourcing giant Capita to head up small, private equity-backed businesses. The man who, along with other top brass, pocketed a 20 per cent pay hike last year as IT Services staff had their wages frozen and bonuses shelved, is to be replaced by Capita deputy chief exec …
Paul Kunert, 18 Nov 2013

UK public auditor, scourge of tax-dodging big biz, hosts its site on ... Amazon

The National Audit Office may have highlighted government suppliers that pull levers to minimise corporate tax, but it failed to mention it too works with at least one such organisation. Via an online gov supplier catalogue, the public spending watchdog contracted DXW to host its website in March, but DXW in turn buys hosting …
Paul Kunert, 14 Nov 2013
Houses of Parliament at night-time

NAO: £4bn of gov work doled out to just 4 outsourcing giants

In spite of the Cabinet Office's tough talk about binning hefty suppliers whose performance is crappy, four outsourcing giants caught up in contractual issues have amassed £4bn of government business. The fabulous four include Capita, Serco, G4S and Atos, which collectively banked £1.05bn in profits globally in 2012. Between …
Paul Kunert, 12 Nov 2013

Scientists to IPCC: YES, solar quiet spells like the one now looming CAN mean ICE AGES

There's been criticism for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) over its latest AR5 report from many quarters for many reasons. But today there's new research focusing on one particular aspect of that criticism. The particular part of the IPCC's science in question is its accounting for the effects of changes …
Lewis Page, 01 Oct 2013
By Emilio Labrador - licensed under Creative Commons

MPs slam bumpkin fibre rollout, demand halt to further £250m cash spaff

Whitehall has insisted that its delayed multimillion-pound rural broadband project represents good value for taxpayers - even as a brutal parliamentary report published today attacks the government for failing to rein in BT. MPs on Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), chaired by Labour politico Margaret Hodge, …
Kelly Fiveash, 26 Sep 2013
ISC Compucolor II. Source:

Fingers crossed! Half a trillion quid in public cash entrusted to ageing gov IT

Nearly half a trillion pounds in tax and other revenues lining the UK government's coffers every year are processed by decades-old IT systems - and the National Audit Office is worried. The auditors, who this week published fresh research [PDF] on public-sector tech, estimated that £480bn of government revenue relied on legacy …
Paul Kunert, 12 Sep 2013

Gov IT write-off: Universal Credit system flushes £34m down toilet

The UK's spending watchdog has scolded the Department for Work and Pensions for so far wasting £34m of taxpayer money on its botched attempt to implement a one-dole-to-rule-them-all IT system. In a stinging rebuke of the government's handling of Universal Credit, the National Audit Office concluded that the DWP, which is led …
Kelly Fiveash, 05 Sep 2013
The Register breaking news

NAO: UK border bods not up to scratch, despite billion-pound facial recog tech

The UK Border Force's inefficient use of technology is one reason it's failing to carry out enough customs checks or detections of illegal immigrants, according to the National Audit Office. The NAO said in a report that border staff managed to cut immigration queue times down during the London Olympics, but only at the …

Hold on a mo: Brits blow £56m a year on the blower to gov minions

British callers spent £56m last year on calling costly 084-prefixed numbers for government departments, the National Audit Office has said. The public spending watchdog released a report today that showed that Blighty's government departments were still using higher rate phone numbers, particularly in the Department of Work …