Sunday, November 25, 2007

Those cds

I'm sure like other Brits with a technology streak to their career, I take the story of the two cds with 25million records of almost half the population of the UK that went missing last week as almost a personal slur. With all civil service agencies having broadband internet, why on earth would they want to send just over 1GB of data by cd anyway? In Nigeria, you are often constrained to use flash drives and cds just because of inadequate bandwidth, but in the UK, which has one of the most competitive ISP markets in the world? Haba.

If, for some silly antiquated bureaucratic reason, they have to send the data by physical means, why did they not at least encrypt it before burning onto the cd? Surely someone must have thought of the scenario of missing cd's? And surely, they do encrypt personal data in the public sector, don't they? The fact that you can buy someone's UK bank details online for US$75 from dodgy Russian syndicates shows how easy identity theft has become, without this generous helping hand from the UK's Customs office. As the home of one of the best project management methodologies going (PRINCE2), its shocking that the civil service in the UK clearly has such a hazy relationship to risk analysis and mitigation.

This story confirms the general impression that the British civil service has fallen way behind the pack on contemporary e-government best practice.

Worse still for Gordon Brown, it only helps to convey the impression that he has lost control - of the economy (witness the Northern Wreck assets scandal of earlier last week), and of the nation's data. With an inexperienced kitchen cabinet (Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Alasdair Darling), he is looking ferociously exposed all of a sudden..


Toks- Boy 5:51 pm  

Jeremy _ I feel we in the "sub continent" still suffer from that disease of giving too much credit for competence to the oyinbos.It only takes one to live there to see that they are as prone to gaffes, cockups and total orishirishi as we are.

Naapali 6:24 am  

Gordon Brown is having his first year rapidly deteriorate from coronation glory to annus horribilis. If he can recover from this onslaught, he will easily win the next election.

Years ago I worked in the NHS after finishing grad school in the US and was amazed at how opposed to basic technology the NHS was. We spent days printing and mailing reports to GPs that could have been emailed in minutes.

Chxta 11:26 am  

O don't moan Jeremy, how British of you...

I am thoroughly enjoying the Gordon Brown show.

Aspiring nigerian woman 11:38 am  

Jeremy, The public service in a mess. I worked with a local authority last year and I nearly dies of frustration. The bureaucarcy and the incompetenece of the whole struture is shocking.

At least the error has not been swept under the carpet. The beauty of democracy!

Anonymous,  6:53 pm  

"Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Alasdair Darling"

Wait, those are their REAL names? Wtf.

Iyaeto 1:38 am  

Jeremy!!I'm not surprised. I was a Civil Servant here in the UK till last August.Majority of the staff in all government departments have been working since they were 16. Some of them can't even do things as simple as cutting and pasting a sentence. Their IT systems are nothing to write home about.

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