Frozen out Duncan Smith punishes universal credit IT suppliers


With up to £425m set to be written off in the botched implementation of the government’s flagship welfare policy, Iain Duncan Smith is attempting to freeze out existing IT suppliersfrom further involvement in Universal Credit. The move continues a system of accountability in which everyone else takes responsibility for the disaster — apart from Ian Duncan Smith.

With “significantly less” input into the revised system announced last month, tech companiesIBM, Accenture, BT and HP join the DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux and other departmental officials in taking the fall. IDS’ Universal Credit adviser Stephen Brien also appears to have left the department.

Both Accenture and BT will be familiar to admirers of government IT procurement cock-ups ascontractors for perhaps the most notorious case of its kind: the NHS National Programme for IT, which saw £12bn go down the Swannee.

According to documents seen by Computer WeeklyDWP will be proceeding with a “standard waterfall delivery approach”:

“The end-state digital solution will be delivered using an agile, and therefore iterative, approach as advocated by the Cabinet Office”

This jargon seems somewhat less impressive given that the director of Universal Credit — theMainwaring-esque Howard Shiplee –told a select committee last month that cheaper open source solutions they are now using “weren’t available” two years ago.


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