Skip to comments.U.K. government hit with another large computer failure biggest in U.K. government history
Posted on 11/26/2004 6:55:40 AM PST by LurkedLongEnough
NOVEMBER 26, 2004 (IDG NEWS SERVICE) - IT system failures continued to plague the U.K. government this week, when as many as 80,000 civil servants working for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) had to deal with what is being described in the local press as the biggest computer crash in government history.
The DWP was carrying out a "routine software upgrade" on Monday when the system crashed, leaving around 80% of the department's 100,000 desk machines disrupted or completely shut down, a DWP spokeswoman said today. The problems lasted through most of yesterday, but the "majority of our system is up and running now," she said.
Microsoft Corp. and Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) run the DWP's network as part of a $3.8 billion information technology contract.
Microsoft issued a short statement today saying that it worked closely with its partners to help rectify the situation and support the DWP, but declined any further comment. Representatives from EDS could not immediately be reached for comment.
The head of the DWP, government secretary Alan Johnson, has promised an internal inquiry into the systems failure and the role Microsoft and EDS, of Plano, Texas, played in the crisis.
The DWP, which is responsible for providing a variety of state benefits to about 24 million people, attempted to downplay the effect the computer problems will have on its customers, saying that the department's mainframe computers were not affected. "There will be delays with new and amended benefit claims, but we have been dealing with the problems though our contingency plans and the disruptions will be minimal," the DWP spokeswoman said.
It is believed that the crash was caused when an incompatible system was downloaded on to the entire network, forcing employees to send faxes because they couldn't access their e-mail accounts and to fill out some payment checks by hand.
The IT failure was only the latest in a string of serious computer system problems experienced by the department. The DWP's Child Support Agency (CSA) has been struggling with a $863 million system from EDS that has made payments to only one in eight single parents awaiting them. Last week, Johnson told a House of Commons Parliamentary Select Committee that he is considering shutting down the child-support case management and telephony system, and Doug Smith, the head of the CSA, resigned from his job.
Today the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, Mark Serwotka, called on the government to hold off on its plans to cut 30,000 jobs in the DWP on the basis of IT improvements, in light of the computer crisis. Earlier this year, the government announced plans to eliminate 104,000 civil servant jobs across the government based in part on increased efficiencies gained though new IT systems.
Since 2001, the DWP has spent around $8.04 billion on various IT projects, including the CSA system. According to a report it submitted to a Parliament Select Committee, the department has spent $579 million on management and IT consultancy, $97.4 million on staff substitutions and contractors and $102.7 million on professional services.
The U.K.'s public sector IT projects in 2003 and 2004 are expected to cost more than $23.4 billion, but U.K. government IT projects have often been accused of being over-ambitious and prone to disastrous delays and cost overruns.
Beyond the DWP, further examples include the benefit-payment card program from the Post Office, the Department of Social Security and International Computers Ltd. (ICL), which fell apart after three years and $567 million; software problems that delayed the Swanwick air traffic control center and have since been blamed for a near collision between two airplanes; the disruption wrought on thousands of people with travel plans in 1999 by the Passport Office's new computer system, and the National Probation Service's case-record and management system which was abandoned in 2001 after it was revealed the project was expected to be two years late and 70% over budget.
If they're not running Linux, no wonder they have a system-wide failure.
Like the DOD, all ovt. needs to bail out of Miscrosoft products asap. Apple is the best.
Apple is proprietary. Linux is open-source. Its an operating system free from virus, worms, spyware and malware. And if a program stops working, it doesn't take down a server with it. Companies still prefer to Windows NT. Reduced maintenance costs and up-time reliability are a consideration.
And UK gubmint recently announced that MS would continue to be preferred IT providers. The civil servants and politicians have zero inkling of how to implement a real world project. Truly pathetic.
My experience has been that the better managed IT shops save their upgrades for safer times than on Monday -- most of them want to have enough time to back out of an upgrade, particularly a disastrous one like this.
I don't understand how anyone could trust any serious data to microsoft products.
Linux does not protect me from my own bad typing.
I'm imagining 100,000 blue screens.....shudder!
I Google'd part of the Microsoft End User License Agreement. Please pay particular attention to the portions I have marked in Bold.
The text below appears to me to be lawyerese for "Bite me."
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES. TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, MICROSOFT AND ITS SUPPLIERS PROVIDE TO YOU THE OS COMPONENTS, AND ANY (IF ANY) SUPPORT SERVICES RELATED TO THE OS COMPONENTS ("SUPPORT SERVICES") AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS; AND MICROSOFT AND ITS SUPPLIERS HEREBY DISCLAIM WITH RESPECT TO THE OS COMPONENTS AND SUPPORT SERVICES ALL WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS, WHETHER EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY (IF ANY) WARRANTIES, DUTIES OR CONDITIONS OF OR RELATED TO: MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, LACK OF VIRUSES, ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF RESPONSES, RESULTS, WORKMANLIKE EFFORT AND LACK OF NEGLIGENCE. ALSO THERE IS NO WARRANTY, DUTY OR CONDITION OF TITLE, QUIET ENJOYMENT, QUIET POSSESSION, CORRESPONDENCE TO DESCRIPTION OR NON-INFRINGEMENT. THE ENTIRE RISK ARISING OUT OF USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THE OS COMPONENTS AND ANY SUPPORT SERVICES REMAINS WITH YOU. EXCLUSION OF INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL AND CERTAIN OTHER DAMAGES. TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, IN NO EVENT SHALL MICROSOFT OR ITS SUPPLIERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, INDIRECT, PUNITIVE OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, DAMAGES FOR: LOSS OF PROFITS, LOSS OF CONFIDENTIAL OR OTHER INFORMATION, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, PERSONAL INJURY, LOSS OF PRIVACY, FAILURE TO MEET ANY DUTY (INCLUDING OF GOOD FAITH OR OF REASONABLE CARE), NEGLIGENCE, AND ANY OTHER PECUNIARY OR OTHER LOSS WHATSOEVER) ARISING OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY RELATED TO THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THE OS COMPONENTS OR THE SUPPORT SERVICES, OR THE PROVISION OF OR FAILURE TO PROVIDE SUPPORT SERVICES, OR OTHERWISE UNDER OR IN CONNECTION WITH ANY PROVISION OF THIS SUPPLEMENTAL EULA, EVEN IF MICROSOFT OR ANY SUPPLIER HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY AND REMEDIES. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY DAMAGES THAT YOU MIGHT INCUR FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ALL DAMAGES REFERENCED ABOVE AND ALL DIRECT OR GENERAL DAMAGES), THE ENTIRE LIABILITY OF MICROSOFT AND ANY OF ITS SUPPLIERS UNDER ANY PROVISION OF THIS SUPPLEMENTAL EULA AND YOUR EXCLUSIVE REMEDY FOR ALL OF THE FOREGOING SHALL BE LIMITED TO ACTUAL DAMAGES INCURRED BY YOU BASED ON REASONABLE RELIANCE UP TO THE GREATER OF THE AMOUNT ACTUALLY PAID BY YOU FOR THE OS COMPONENTS OR U.S.$5.00. THE FOREGOING LIMITATIONS, EXCLUSIONS AND DISCLAIMERS SHALL APPLY TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, EVEN IF ANY REMEDY FAILS ITS ESSENTIAL PURPOSE.
Yes, the higher costs is a big issue. I'd replace my MS computer system in a flash if I could get an Apple for a reasonable price.
That's what they get for upgrading!
A lot of Mac OS X is open source, especially at the Unix level. For interoperability in proprietary products, Apple makes extensive use of open standards for file formats and network protocols. Mac OS X is not wide-open like Linux, but it is more accessable than Windows in that respect.
For government operations, I'd suggest Linux servers and Mac OS X for desktop computers. Public sector productivity would be measurably improved with that arrangement.
One other bit of news - H-P is about to buy EDS.
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