According to a report issued by the UK House of Commons, IT problems at Jobcentre Plus hamper the efficiency of agency employees. Problems include slow system response times and inability to cut and paste between screens. Testimony included in fine-print at the back of the report describes EDS as the system integrator, and indicates EDS earned a 30% profit margin at the agency:
Q61 Mr Bacon: Finally I have a question about IT. On page 25 it says: “IT systems are fundamental to Personal Advisers’ work, but Advisers have some concerns . . . Future improvements could include: being able to cut and paste information from one screen to another”. I remember this coming up some years ago. Your computer supplier for Jobcentre Plus is EDS, is that right? Mr Owen is nodding.
Ms Strathie: Yes, that is right.
Q62 Mr Bacon: We happen to know that EDS is making a profit margin of 30% on its work with DWP. You might have thought that for a 30% profit margin you could get cut and paste thrown in, would you not? Why is this still coming up after we first heard about this problem several years ago?
Ms Strathie: We are going through a technology refresh at the moment which primarily will allow our advisers to open several windows at the same time in a much more user friendly manner. That is probably the briefest way of answering your question.
Q63 Mr Bacon: Does it include cut and paste?
Ms Strathie: I do not really understand it.
Chairman: Send us a note on that point.
Well, we've just learned that IT problems at this agency are not new. The report describes more interesting tidbits:
IT systems can be slow and cumbersome and some parts do not have basic functionality that would be expected in a modern office.
The productivity of Personal Advisers is affected by slow or problematic IT, with nearly half of advisers experiencing delays daily. Many of the shortcomings in the IT system are simple but nevertheless irritating for staff and reduce their efficiency, for example, by requiring them to re-key identical information for every new customer or by making it hard to print out information they need. Changing IT systems can be costly but given what the Department pays its supplier for IT support it should press for simple improvements in order to help save adviser time.
Apparently, the Committee of Public Accounts doesn't think the agency's IT performance is worth the money paid for the system. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common in situations where vendors, system integrators, and consultants are not managed properly.