May 2024

We all helped make these men very very rich – is that why they’re smiling?

Here are some happy, smiling and very rich men (click to see more clearly)


You probably don’t know who they are. But I do. I worked with a few of them when I was helping sell second-hand consultancy projects and often dud computer systems for the huge 140,000-employee IT firm Capgemini.

But why should you care? Because these men and their colleagues have been pocketing an awful lot of your money, that’s why. Capgemini have been hugely successful in persuading British civil servants to give them many billions of pounds of our money for work which was not always (how shall I put this politely?) totally brilliant.

Capgemini won the jackpot when they were given responsibility to run the (as usual) wonderfully named ‘Aspire’ project for our utterly incompetent HMRC. The Aspire deal was costed at £4.1bn in 2004, but it is predicted that the figure will have more than doubled to £10.4bn by the time the contract runs out in 2017.

In a highly critical report, the National Audit Office (NAO) also disclosed that Capgemini, the contractor, and Fujitsu, its subcontractor, have already reaped profits of at least £1.2bn on the deal, or more than double the £500m forecast.

The NAO revealed that the original contract gave HMRC some of the profits from the scheme. But this right was given away when the deal was ‘renegotiated’ in 2012. Profits received have only been worth £16m instead of £71m.

“It is deeply depressing that once again a government contract has proved better value for the private companies involved than for the taxpayer, with Capgemini and Fujitsu pocketing an incredible £1.2bn in combined profits — more than twice the profit HMRC expected,” said Mrs Hodge, chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee.

“HMRC is planning to replace the Aspire contract in 2017, but its new project is half-baked, with no business case and no idea of the skills or resources needed to make it work. All this gives me little confidence that HMRC’s senior team has the capability to manage large and complex contracts.”

Why this depresses me is that in 2006 I wrote a book PLUNDERING THE PUBLIC SECTOR in which I explained why public-sector IT projects are almost always complete disasters, what needed to be done to make them successful and why the NHS IT system project (which was just starting up then) would be a complete and utter fiasco.

At the time, I was invited to give a presentation to the heads of IT systems in the main government departments. But the attendees were a bunch of arrogant, self-important and frighteningly incompetent buffoons who took the attitude ‘we know what we’re doing and there’s nothing you can teach us’. I believe that if I and a couple of people I know (who are experts in IT project contracts) had been allowed to work with the Civil Service, we could have saved UK taxpayers several billion pounds. But, of course, everything I proposed to the idiots who buy IT projects from consultants was rejected.

The result has been more than obvious – a string of catastrophically badly-managed, hugely expensive calamities. The Department for Work and Pensions has written off part of its computer program for universal credit, the NHS scrapped its new system after over £5bn had been wasted, the Home Office scrapped a £347m immigration IT project last August, a National Offender Management project was dumped after perhaps £250m had gone up in smoke and on and on and on – a few hundred million here and another few hundred million there.

I know the people from Capgemini. They are unbelievably smart and have an almost unbelievable appetite for ever more of our money. The idea of utterly useless overpaid, over-pensioned British civil servants supposedly ‘negotiating’ with Capgemini executives is just laughable. Feeding congenitally stupid chickens to hungry, slavering wolves is an image that springs to my mind.

So, if you or anyone in your organisation ever comes across Capgemini, my advice would be ‘hold on to your wallet’ as your encounter with Capgemini is likely to leave Capgemini an awful lot richer and you an awful lot poorer.

3 comments to We all helped make these men very very rich – is that why they’re smiling?

  • BenefitsStreet

    There should be greater scrutiny of these crony IT companies. What is it that is motivating them to push the government’s diversity agenda?

    Inclusion and Diversity at Accenture

    More phoney contracts perhaps?

    Accenture escapes £1bn penalty for NHS walk-out; Complete failure. Delivered.

  • Dr. R. D. Feltham

    Of course you are correct Neil. I have had similar experience of with Cap Gemini. Fundamentally they are driven by PR and dynamic hard driven sales people; and they do not seem to employ any really competent highly-qualified consultants now, if they ever did.

    But then of course, most of the other larger Management Consultancies are pretty similar now? They have mostly offloaded their experienced expert consultants and use raw graduates after 2 weeks training to unleash on the clients as supposed fully-fledged Consultants, after high-pressure salesmanship! Only a few specialist and niche players really offer consultants who are highly-qualified, experienced and expert at what they offer any longer.

  • Baroness Bonkers

    Interesting that you should write this today.
    Last evening, in an attempt to avoid the Scottish country fayre on tv, I happened upon the Parliament channel where I saw the fragrant Mr Vaz and his Home Office Committee drilling some bint who was labelled as head of, essentially, the Passport Office.She was talking about a computer system which had never worked properly and had cost around £200 -300 million. She referred to an old computer they were still using instead which almost did the job but they would need another new one at a similar cost again to the public purse. Vaz said he presumed this newish system had not come from PC World and basically asked why the newish useless one hadn’t been fixed. She didn’t have a clue. Were I in charge I would make her the cleaner or get rid of her immediately. She seemed away with the fairies. Meanwhile all through her spouting, sitting behind her on camera, and presumably someone relatively important as otherwise she would not have been there, was a woman who yawned frequently (no hand to mouth)kept stroking her arm, constantly fiddled with her teeth, looked totally disinterested and was presumably was another potential overpaid useless civil service idiot.I was just dying for her to start picking her nose. I gave up so I don’t know whether she did or not.

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