Open saucers are celebrating after the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) flagship welfare reform project, Universal Credit, announced that the project will now be using open source and web-based tech.
But they might be a little bemused that the head of delivery for the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) flagship welfare reform project, Universal Credit, seemed to imply that Open Sauce was not around two and a half years ago.
According to Computer World, Howard Shiplee told the Work and Pensions Committee this week that the department is now using open source technologies in its enhanced version of Universal Credit, which was initially developed by the Government Digital Service and will be rolled out nationally by 2017 for most claimants. It hopes.
Shiplee however was on the back foot about the project which he said relies not on large amounts of tin, black boxes, but uses open source and mechanisms on the web to store and access data. It was wonderful. The fact the project had to write off, or ‘impair’, £40.1 million worth of IT assets to date was a little bit more of a problem.
When MPs asked him why he did not think of Open Sauce two and a half years ago at the start of the project, Shiplee said: “Technology is moving very rapidly, such things weren’t available as they are today”.
So in other words the Open Sauce concept was not around, or if it was, it could not do what Shiplee wanted. This might strike many open saucers as a little strange as it has been around for decades and could have been providing the same sorts of things that Work and Pensions seems to want to do now.
Work and pensions secretary of state Iain Duncan (take two names into the Common’s shower) Smith, told the committee that he is in control of the project and that there is “no debacle.” However, he admitted that the department has had to write off, or ‘impair’, £40.1 million worth of IT assets to date with the open saucy move.
Shiplee was asked by MPs why penalty clauses had not been included in the contracts, to impose fines on the suppliers if they failed to deliver on targets, he said: “You would find it very hard to find vendors in the market place to do this work at full risk. So the department took up the risk.”
Anyway in this case the write-offs and writing down of assets, were not the suppliers’ fault. The code that had been produced was of good quality, he said, but it didn’t reflect the needs of the project anymore because the specifications had changed so much.