On the Inland Revenue EDS sacking

Finger pointing

Cat 5 cable

Letters Inland Revenue sacks EDS

First the EDS pros (some literally):

Having worked for EDS on the account for four years in role that involved dealing with the customer on project- related issues on a daily basis, you have given a true indication of the EDS side of events but have failed to divulge exactly how the relationship between EDS and the IR is run.

Without wanting to sound as if I'm having a rant and rave, but from my experience the Revenue rules what EDS does with a 'Iron Rod' and is as much or if not even more to blame than EDS for the fiasco of the Tax Credits Scheme.

In the past they have dictated what and where things should done on a micromanaged level, they think they can deliver IT better than any service provider. But why in 1994 did they have to outsource????? Probably because it is their people who are incompetent and don't know how to deliver IT. So EDS is used as a scapegoat to cover-up the shortcomings! But let’s bring some other things in perspective, a lot of the staff including senior management on the account to date are ex Revenue employees.

So is there going to be an article on how the Inland Revenue are incompetent themselves?

Name and address supplied

As a one-time member of EDS who still knows a lot of people in the IR division there are more losers to this affair than you note.

The general public loses out because many of the stresses on the projects that contributed to delays can be laid at the door or political timing from the government forcing suicidely short timescales onto both IR and EDS staff.

They also lose out to the tune of £60 million that the changeover will cost - or in other words a quid from each and every one of us. Lets hope that the upheaval doesn't do more damage to the services provided to us the general public, and that that £60 million is recouped very, very quickly...

Charles Oldham, Application Development Engineer

As the Inland Revenue (IR) are busy "naming and shaming" by sacking EDS, do you chaps know anyone (likely to get the chop) at EDS who would be willing to name and shame a few Civil Servants (politicians would do nicely too) who couldn't keep a spec still for more than 30 seconds...

Whilst there appears to have been some almighty cock-ups by EDS I have a feeling that some major "spec drift" was being kept hidden from the public by a loyal (and probably, contractually silenced) contractor.

I cannot believe that you can sack a contractor the size of EDS without having taking out a few of the senior civil servants at the IR too: or has there been a string of very quiet "promotions" and "reassignments" over the last ten years?

Ah, politics.....

Richard Cosgrave

I was outsourced myself this year - to none of EDS, Cap Gemini, or Fujitsu.

As a citizen and taxpayer, I'm very worried that this is how the public sector expects to deal with the private sector. And as an outsourced employee, I feel for the staff who have pulled out the stops to deliver for this. A lot of these used to be civil servants who, I'm guessing, would have found outsourcing to be a very bad experience, and may only know be starting to appreciate the benefits.

Yes, the tax credit thing was a fiasco. But outsourcing the IT doesn't absolve the government of all responsibility. Public sector IT has a history of failing, and EDS' side of the story tends to suggest that nothing has changed.

While the government may be content with kicking around contracts assuming that only private sector bottom-lines will be hit (and this is a bit contract; that could do a lot of damage to EDS) they're missing the key point here.

Its a key point that the Revenue and EDS together would have made when outsourcing their staff - without the staff, there is no IT. This is going to be a massive hit to morale, be a huge personal distruption (new Ts&Cs, new payroll, new conditions, new management structure, new career structures etc).

And if the Government has lost this much confidence in EDS, thats a big chunk of potential PPP supplier thrown out with the dishwater.

Finally, its going to be at least six to twelve months for the new company to get its feet under the table, and in the mean time, there'll be all sorts of difficulties in getting things done. Its not going to deliver, and it'll be the staff who have to work long hours to clean up the mess.

The government has to accept that this is a partnership, and it can't just go around beheading its partners when it has an argument.

Ben Prescott

And now for the antis.

Interesting memo from Mr Thomas, but quite unoriginal. Little more than recycled excuses, in fact. And no, I don't and never have worked for EDS, but I think I'm entitled to be pissed off at seeing more taxpayers money thrown down the drain on a failed IT project.

I've been a software QA engineer for far too long to believe this tripe:

…much of our testing window was lost as a consequence of the late issue of business requirements

Christ, if I had a fiver for every time I've heard or read that particular excuse I'd be as rich as Bill Gates. The fact that EDS allowed testing to be cut by 75 per cent speaks volumes about the importance they attached to it. If the EDS project management team had any balls at all, they'd have made it clear up front that late issue of business requirements = late delivery of software. Period. End of story.

Instead, they must have made a contractual commitment to releasing the software by a given date, with little or no comeback in the event of failure of the customer to meet their obligations. You would think that a company with EDS' track record would have hoisted in the need to test software properly by now.

"Testing window". Duh. It's not something that you can just chop from a project plan to meet a release date if you give a shit about quality.

Mike Smith

I am pleased to see that EDS is likely to be punished for the awful mess that surrounded the introduction of the new tax credit system, by losing the contract to manage the Inland Revenue’s systems. However the fact remains that EDS earned £168M in revenues for this almighty cock-up.

I am fed up with these large outsourcing companies taking their customers, and often the general public, for a ride. Whenever I deal with these organisations I am usually struck by how inept they are, and I have often found myself wondering why, despite all the high profile failures, they continue to win extremely large outsourcing deals. I note that Dawn Primarolo, the Paymaster General,, has bizarrely hailed the project a 'huge success', despite all the hardship endured by those who were affected. I see that Cap Gemini are set to benefit if EDS do lose the IR deal, but is this just robbing Peter to pay Paul? It’s time that we challenged the received wisdom that large IT operations must be outsourced.

David Tyrrell

Oh big surprise, considering that EDS was the Tories consultant lackey.

They've been losing more and more business as time passes by, now we can have CGEY overcharge the government and the taxpayer and they'll have the privilege of blaming 'legacy systems from poor suppliers' which will allow them to totally replace something that almost been finally made to work at an exorbitant cost.

Then Tony Bleeuuurgh will quit to spend more time with his family, but not before the economy has been allowed to sink into a quagmire of high taxation and worthless public spending (on consultants like CGEY), house price collapse and rising unemployment.

At which point the nation will vote in Michael Howard, and the whole wheel can start turning again. During which time EDS will have changed it's name to DPS (a centralised Public/Private Partnership for all Digital Public Services) so no-one will notice the contract being handed back to the good ole boys from Texas.

It is no more unusual for big government outsourcing contracts to change hands than it is for governments to change parties. All it takes is an election.

You read it here first.

Alan Drew

Erm… I think we’ll leave it there for now. ®

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