Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Government Digital By Default - Reality Check

Digital exclusion by default

Here is evidence why digital by default will leave people (many of them vulnerable) more vulnerable and excluded.

Lack of Skills amongst public

Digital Intelligence: 16m Brits ‘lack basic web skills’ - - Report by UK digital champion Martha Lane Fox.

Lack of Access Exclusion and Vulnerability

@BBCMarkEaston - 53% of 7.1m UK adults who've NEVER used Internet are disabled, says ONS. Universal Credit will be 'digital by default'. - Seven million Brits 'never used net' - - More than seven million adults in the UK have never been online, official figures say, with the elderly remaining the least connected. Disabled people are three times less likely to get online than people without disability.

Digital by Default harms people.

Lack of Service User Involvement

Public service Mantra - No Decision About Me Without Me! - Where is the progress by DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) and ATOS in provision of fair assessments, IT Systems, Universal Credit and Tax Systems that effect them? Enough Service User Involvement, inclusion of full range of minorities? people with disabilities? 

BBC News - Hospital inspections- This is needed for ATOS/DWP - - Recruit "small army" of doctors, nurses, patients and carers.

Mental health patients contract run by security firm G4S - - Any Service User Involvement in this Decision?

Why people like me agree the WCA is unfair - - people like me and my son have known how unfair the WCA is for months.

Full statement from special rapporteur on housing Raquel Rolnik - - via @guardian - 'Bedroom Tax'

Government claims Welfare Reforms are working - So why won't they undertake Cumulative Impact Assessment - - #WOWPetition

Systematic failures and Institutional Discrimination

BBC News - Brain injury victim's family disgusted at 'work' letter - - man permanent vegetative state after assault.

One-legged man accused of benefit fraud after officials examined wrong leg - - One leg improved the other amputated - guess which leg DWP and CPS checked?

Charities criticise 'flawed' fit for work system | Nursing in Practice - - Half of people with a progressive disease such as multiple sclerosis have been told they will recover enough to work by the Work Capability Assessment.

Atos fit-to-work assessments branded 'farcical' people with progressive diseases like Parkinson's told they'll RECOVER -

Paul McCauley, left in vegetative state by gang attack, sent letter asking whether he is fit for work | via @MetroUK

£130 to get medical evidence for WCA? - Rethink Mental Illness, the mental health charity: - - Mental Health News.

Secret Cuts 6: How are those with mental health problems treated by Atos? - Complaints about work capability assessment.

Whistleblower tells the inside story of Atos - - via @DailyMirror - Mark Thomas - and - I’ve had a fistful of IDS.

Written off by Atos - I might as well die: The desperate letters from benefit cuts victims - - via @DailyMirror - Horror stories from readers.

BBC News - Basic rights of mentally ill 'violated' - - because of a shortage of beds in psychiatric units, MPs say.

Mentally ill patients sectioned unnecessarily just to gain access to a hospital bed - - Chair of Health Select Committee.

Proof that ATOS expect people with incurable conditions like cerebral palsy to "get better" -  via @ThomasPride

Today 11th September Jim Paterson put forward the  idea that ATOS tests people more often than necessary, including for incurable medical conditions that will not improve or will get worse. The incentive he mentioned is that they are paid per assessment. I think he has a point that this incentive skews their work.

To put it mildly many people with disabilities are not feeling empowered by the system, nor by its direction of change!

Top-Down design causing the usual failures

Many links tweeted by

“I know why Universal Credit IT is failing” John Seddon message for @margarethodge -  #tVM - This analysis is absolutely right and goes straight to the core issue.

How to fix Universal Credit- cut out the IT crowd via @Telegraph - - Work and Pensions Secretary has blamed his department’s officials for the initial teething problems. - "Since people have so many different experiences and circumstances constructing an IT system that will embrace them all is doomed to failure. So why not have the single UC, which is the good bit, and recognise that it is best implemented by people, not computers? As John Seddon, the systems guru, has argued in a bid to get the public sector to listen 'computers are terrible at absorbing variety – and taxation, credits and benefits are problems with wide variety.'

Seddon sees UC as another Whitehall plan obsessed with cost that will actually be more expensive when it all goes wrong than giving claimants someone to talk to who will deal with their problems straight away. Online services that are too complex merely take longer, frustrate claimants and add more cost. Seddon says these would be far better delivered face-to-face by benefit offices and the savings that IT makes in staff costs are illusory.

'Citizen-centred services have been able to cut their operating costs and cope with rising demand,' says Seddon . 'They demonstrate that good service is, actually, cheaper. The people who have developed these outstanding services could deliver the universal credit in months, without a massive investment in IT.'

Will anyone listen to this good advice and stop seeing digital as the only way to do business in government?"

"One of the revelations in the NAO report is that the so-called reset team has proposed that this should be abandoned: instead of digital by default, the UC programme should be 'digital as appropriate'."

Iain Duncan Smith put his faith in new leadership of Universal credit. This is not how big IT projects succeed. They succeed when users are staff are the main drivers, fully involved and engaged.

The Government plan to deliver Universal Credit on time and on budget, simply by increasing the budget and putting back the date. It will still fail.

Bob Marshall ‏@flowchainsensei1 -
"In command-and-control organisations, the ILLUSION of control is much more comforting - and hence valuable - than any actual control."

Universal credit:guaranteed to fail? - via @guardian will not be able to deal with human variety-try service by humans? - Experts predicted failure from start 2011!

BBC News - Universal credit: What went wrong? - At-a-glance: What went wrong.

"Of £303m spent so far on IT, only £162m deemed to be fit to be capitalised as an asset.  " DWP writes off millions of pounds on Universal Credit IT, damning NAO report reveals. @ComputerWeekly

“@SysThinkReview: NAO: 'Universal Credit: early progress.' ” > points 23 and 24, carry on regardless...

David Cameron's £2.4bn universal credit project riddled with problems -  @guardian £34m wasted on failed IT programmes

Universal credit: Iain Duncan Smith blames civil servants for IT failings - - rare step of publicly blaming civil servants.

DWP drops agile from flagship government software project- Public Sector IT: - drops scheme to avert software disasters.

- and did DWP ever embrace the agile approach anyway, feedback is no!

Universal Credit? Universal DISCREDIT, more like, say insiders - - Government sources -' reveal - total disarray'

BBC News - Universal credit: National roll-out delayed, claims Labour - - hit by fresh delays.

BBC News - DWP 'chaos' to cost £1.4bn, says Labour's Liam Byrne - - Iain Duncan Smith has lost control of spending.

Prepare to add HS2 & Universal Credit to depressing list of fiascos @Telegraph - - Policies ministers stubbornly stuck to.

IDS accuses civil servants of ignoring warnings about Universal Credit - -  Blame game begins over benefits.

What were Iain Duncan Smith's 'welfare reforms' really about? Sue Marsh - - failed & frightened most vulnerable.

Universal Credit crunch: Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reform wastes £34m- so far - ‘weak management & poor governance’

£200m of Universal Credit IT could be scrapped, MPs told - - Computer Weekly.

Even if Tax and Benefit systems each work well (doubtful), they then need to work together in real time!

Lack of Progress in Developing Open Semantic Web Technologies

BBC News - Tim Berners-Lee: Net neutrality 'regulation needed' - - Click - Video and Article.

Has the web developed how Berners - Lee hoped it would? - - BBC News - Click Video - Tim Berners-Lee's invention has gone global.

But Government does not involve people in development of its' IT and Web systems.


If these failures are not addressed these digital by default and other schemes will fail individually and together. Implementers will be unable to do anything other than salvage the best bits from the wreckage.

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