"Chaos as Government IT system grinds to a halt". Guess which IT system I'm talking about. MTAS? The Child Support Agency's IT phone system? The NHS's £12bn upgrade system? The criminal records bureau? The answer, of course, could be all of them. However today I'm referring to the latest incredible waste of public money and seemingly unending incompetence of the government when it comes to IT projects that is occurring in our registry offices. The £6 million project has been described in a letter to The Times as meeting with “complete system failure” with online registration suspended in half the 3,000 offices. The problems include poor reliability, the speed of the system which makes it virtually unusable and problems saving data. This has led to reported cases of registrars having to phone up grieving families asking for details on lost partners or family members on multiple occasions as the system loses the data.
And now time for the government spokesman, cue spin and avoidance of the issue: “There was a lengthy period performance testing to see if the new system could cope with the load and we ran two different pilot programmes. Those were successfully completed... We decided to withdraw the system in some areas, so half have gone back to using the old electronic system. There will be no loss of data, registration will go ahead as normal and we are going full steam ahead in trying to sort out the problem.” Great. But what about the fact data has been lost, the project has cost millions of pounds and yet the Government is continuing to steam ahead despite not having a clue what it is doing. The costs are also very likely to rise as no arrangements or funding are in place for all the hundreds of hours of overtime that will be required to enter all the data if and when the system is fixed. God help us if the ID cards system goes ahead, it will make the other failed IT project pale in to insignificance.