Tuesday, May 13, 2014

This Day In Snookland...Let Them Eat Software, v2.0.


First, the problem at hand, as reported by Tiffany Crawford and Rob Shaw in the VSun last week:

...“This is an immediate safety risk, it’s completely unacceptable,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the province’s independent Representative for Children and Youth. “Frontline staff is calling me in flat-out panic. It affects child safety, and worker safety.”

Turpel-Lafond cited several consequences of the computer failure, such as a father of three young children unable to get an income assistance cheque from government to feed his family, and police officers responding to a domestic violence call but unable to tell if any children at the address had been abused in the past or if there were firearms in the residence.

The paper backup system doesn’t allow provincial staff in one part of the province to properly share information, such as with hospitals. And it has left the system with by a mountain of paperwork to enter into the computer, she said.

“This is a disaster,” said Turpel-Lafond. “ There needs to be a proper independent review of this.”

At issue is the government’s custom-built $182-million integrated case management computer system, which went into operation in April 2012 and was intended to allow sharing of information between ministries about social assistance, disabilities, domestic violence, and child welfare....

Second, the response of one of the Snooklandian ministers allegedly 'in charge':

...“It’s a new computer system, and to say there won’t ever be hiccups is something we can’t do,” (Social Development Minister Don McRae) said. “Look at Windows 8, it didn’t go very well.”...

But here's the thing...

It is not a new system and this most definitely is not the first time that problems have arisen.

Case in point, the following is taken from a consultant's report, released in early 2013, on what had to be done to even start making the 'product', purchased from Siebel/Oracle (thanks NVG!), even remotely servicable:

The following next steps need to be completed prior to this review being able to conclude on the question of whether the Siebel product can meet the needs of child protection. In particular, we recommend that steps, 9, 10, and 12 be completed prior to finalization of this review and provision of the final report.

9. With the re-commitment to a shared vision for ICM, work should proceed on redeveloping system requirements and should include the following major steps:

-Review best practices from other jurisdictions;

-Work with a core group of subject matter experts to identify and drive a full set of requirements from the restated child protection practice model. This work should be aimed at enabling actual user workflows, which should form the basis of requirements;

-Confirm and consolidate requirements with stakeholder groups, both to ensure that stakeholders see that that have been “heard”, and that requirements are accurate and will meaningfully improve users’ work processes.

10.Complete a gap fit assessment of requirements to the current solution. This process should include the development of prioritized needs, business cases and options for proceeding to address revised requirements.

12. Complete detailed budget, timelines and contractual impact analyses to ensure that the appropriate resources are in place and that revised timelines are feasible and will not result in unacceptable contractual obligations or ramifications.

Sound like a little hiccup with Windows 8 to you?



I've read the entire report cited above.

And I realize that this effort was originally mounted in good faith with a goal to actually try and make good on the Hughes report.

But the long running ineptitude of the powers-that-be behind this thing really does make one wonder if this is just another more crony-run effort gone bad (remember Maximus?).

Regardless, when I think of the time, effort and huge resources wasted to make the incredibly hard job of front-line workers, workers who actually deal with our fellow citizens and children most in need, even harder?


It's impossible for me to keep my outrage meter out of the red when I recall how hard the same powers-that-be worked to 'demonstrate' that they hadn't changed a 'policy' (rather than a long standing 'practice') to allow those same front-line workers to buy kids stuck in the system without a family an extra present at Christmas time.


And just so you know...I really have been working hard to keep that outrage meter safely down in the green for a while now...Honest I have.
On that Maximus thing...At last count we were into it for at least a half a billion...And it is neither fast nor a ferry (or even, it would appear, scrap metal)...



J MacDuff (Weatherguy) said...

It's all about families.
Their personal and business families, everyone else be damned.

Anonymous said...

All they had to do was put one line in the original contract proposal and they/we wouldn't be stuck in this mess.

'All supplied software must be open source.'

Now we are being held hostage by proprietary pirates.

Paul Ramsey said...

A little more technical background on ICM here.

You can find a few cronies around the edges of the IT apparatus (former Liberal candidates writing the justifications for the outsourcing policy which eventually landed us with Maximus and these 8-figure software builds, for example). But the real problem, I think, is that the growth of outsourcing culture has set up kind of a mini "military industrial complex" in the relationship between senior gov't staff and the vendors. Senior gov't staff are rotating out of their positions into very lucrative senior positions in the consultancies, which in turn incentivizes them to support business-as-usual in the delivery of these projects via big vendors while they are in gov't.

Danneau said...

This is such a lovely complement to Norm Farrell's Vapourtax as to defy description. And let us not also forget the Ministry imposed school information management system, called, I think BCSESYS, or some such thing, that was an utter failure and expensive boondoggle in keeping with the ICM and Maximus. See the VSun article on subsidies by, horrors, the Fraser Institute Hole-In-The-Wall Gang and my comment at RESH.

Paul Ramsey said...

Also worth noting: the 2013 report you quote from was preceded by a 2011 report that said many of the same things. They knew years before launch that the whole thing was incredibly risky, but proceeded with a waterfall rip'n'replace project rather than a more cautious incremental approach.

Anonymous said...

wonder how many liberal bagmen got rich off this deal?

Unknown said...

Nice to see Andrew Wilkinson, former Enbridge lobbyist with RCI, squirming in the hot seat. Now the million dollar question is who is going to pay to replace or repair this system? (Hint: you and me)

Anonymous said...

Abigail Field: Privatization Is Driven By Private Greed and Public Cowardice (and Public Greed, Too)


Six Principles For Judging PPP Deals

1. Public Control
2. Fair Value
3. Deals capped at 30 years
4. State-of-the-art maintenance and safety standards
5. Complete Transparency and Accountability
6. No Budget Gimmicks

Anonymous said...


Families first. There's no love like 1%er love...

Ryan Beedie ‏@ryanbeedie · 4h
Congrats to @christyclarkbc! Tomorrow marks one year since the BIG WIN ... one of the best days of my life! #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/1oMIOEzZMg

e.a.f. said...

what is so funny, is they aren't 1%ers. they are the tools of the 1%ers and when they outlive their usefulness they will be tossed aside.

RossK said...

Great thread everybody--

And thanks Paul and Anon-Above for the link tips.

Follow-up post comin'....