Monday, May 24, 2010

24 May 2010: Cuts

As expected, plenty of government cuts, including some reported here.

Quote from that report of special interest to the original purpose of this blog:

"The government department that was hardest hit by Monday's cuts was that for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). BIS is now to scrap its funding — announced by then-PM Gordon Brown in March — for a new Institute of Web Science. The institute would have been focused on the development of the Semantic Web, and would have been led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt of the University of Southampton.

"In light of the current pressures on public finances, the government has decided that it cannot support the creation of a new Institute for Web Science at Southampton University at this time," a BIS spokesperson said in a statement."

The thing is this: someone's going to do it, and the UK will miss out as a result. Cuts need to be made - drastically, yes - but when we emerge (assuming we do emerge), there can be little doubt that this will be regarded as a missed opportunity. As is often the case in Comp Sci, things move quickly and you can't simply delay something like this. Someone else will do it, and it'll be the UK - not just ECS Southampton and us ex-AKTors - who will miss out.

And before you get people saying "yes, but cuts need to be made, and 5 million is a lot of wonga", I would like to mention a few short words about other areas of astonishing - aSTONishing - waste over the last few years: government contracts; Stellent; Club. Very few people know what that's about, but if you think 5 million is a lot of wonga to waste on a world-leading Institute of Web Science, try digging around to see how much IT wastage there has been in recent years, paid for by UK taxes.

To say the least, one commonly-promoted statistic in undergrad computer science is this: 80% of all IT projects are never deployed.


Nick Gibbins said...

Yes, things here are a bit muted, to say the least. No word yet from the high muckamucks, so it could be that things are less bad than immediately apparent (we're talking about £5m from a total £30m, so it's only this year's tranche that has been cut so far), but that's scanty hope indeed.

Anonymous said...

anonymous of Baltimore agrees that The Club was the biggest waste of money he's ever seen. A feeding frenzy for IT consultancies because their client didn't even have basic comprehension of what was required to get it done.

It was an unbelievable time and made The Emperors New Clothes look like small beer - seemingly nobody was held responsible.

I remember one autonomy contractor boasting about how much he was billing per month ($30k) but probably the best example of all was the way my own employment on that job was handled.

I was recruited by one agent who traded me to another agent, placed with Cap Gemini before they traded me to Logica and then finally back to Xansa.

Each of those agents and then all three firms added a percentage to the billable total until it was way north of £2500 a day (I saw £400).

At the last count I heard they'd blown £90M quid and it was being scrapped. Many of these firms, and the clients themselves have their snouts in the trough. Thats why I got out!