Has the sky fallen in on DWP's big bang implementation plans for Universal Credit?

Is it a coincidence that I received a website reference to a DWP paper on identity fraud dated last February on the same day as the announcement of the departure of the programme director for the Universal Credit – with added speculation with regard to further changes?

The successful implementation of major programmes correlates almost exactly with the continuity of senior responsible owner from inception to live running. The DWP implementation strategy appears to have consistantly broken rules one (the centralised storage of vunerable and sensitive data),  two (network vulnerability) and three (creation of large numbers of disaffected staff) of the Skyfall guide for Ministers and Directors .

I find it interesting that none of the alternative, lower risk, ways of implementing the ministerial “vision” were ever seriously considered. I have always favoured devolving as much responsbility as practical to front line staff and giving them the tools to take a genuinely integrated view of the customers needs. In the context of DWP that would mean given them access to data matching systems that would mean enabling them to join up the care and benefits packages available to the human with whom they are dealing (idealy face to face) and also to record why they have decided not to abide by the recommendations of computer files that may well be weeks or months out of date with regard to the circumstances of those in most need of the flexible help with is supposedly integral to the vision. Another implication of this is to greatly remove vulnerabilities to the current £billions of “systemic” on-line fraud based on ID crime.

I will not bore you with my previous blogs such as “Is DWP herding the vulnerable online to be fleeced?” , “What is the difference between the National plan for IT and the Universal Credit?” and “A train crash waiting to happen … ” . I will just say that I too like the “vision” very much and hope that it is not too late to separate benefit from risk in the implementation. But doing so almost certainly requires changing from grandiose big bang to incremental change.