HMRC ASPIRE continued

November 22, 2007 at 3:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Update: I have been sent a link to the news report that sparked my search for ASPIRE:

Top Story

Lost benefit data: what went wrong? »

21 Nov 2007 07:00PM – Julian Rush

With 25 million records missing, it emerges the National Audit Office hadn’t even requested the entire database from HMRC.

Watch the report

Interview with the CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants is good. His comments are spot-on and key to preventing this happening again. Procedures without managers are like laws without police. They don’t operate in a vacuum, and certainly do not enforce themselves. Common sense and honesty would go a long way in preventing a repeat of this kind of fiasco, even without procedures.

The unions’ argument that employees are under pressure to do what the public expects of them does not wash in this particular case. The public expects their data to be protected, not shipped out wholesale. (Silver lining: if these discs had not been lost, none of us would even know about this situation, let alone how archaic the systems still are).

In this case, the simple answer from HMRC to the NAO should have been an honest:

“Sorry, can’t be done.”

with the technology and within the timeframes and cost limits that exist.

Only a few years into the most expensive ten-year IT project ever, if implementation of a relational database with easy record sort facilities has not been included in that procurement, the mind boggles. Perhaps that would be a possible follow-on as another expense in the eight-year extension project Capgemini hope to get out of all of this?

Oracle, SAP, Google, Apple, Sun Microsystems and others must have been choking on their dinner as they heard this news.

Government systems appear to be operating in pre-1990s mode with 21st century expectations. In another example, I was shocked to hear TB saying in PMQ last year (or the year before) that there were warehouses full of data that needed to be sifted through after the London bombings. Warehouses? What happened to a room filled with Linux clusters?!

The threat to children’s privacy will persist for decades because of this breakdown in common sense and honesty, before we even talk about technology.

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