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  1. #1
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    The government and computers

    With all the computer problems that the government has had recently, like with security, and things working properly, is it really worth them using them at all?

    Computers are suppose to be able to help out alot, but in some cases, they obvisouly havn't. The DVLA and the Child support agency have both been on Watchdog recently because people have have been charged the wrong amount or money has been taken when it shouldn't have and as we know there have been plenty of security issues recently.

    Is it just that they are incompetent with these computer systems, or are computers really not a good way of dealing with all this. Maybe next time they want to spend millions of pounds on making a safer system, they could switch to a manual one, which people might be better at using. But I suppose we wouldn;t want to risk the possibilty that someones piece of paper goes missing or that someone breaks into the filing cabinet.


  2. #2
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    No system is 100% infallible or safe. It's impossible as everything requires so form of user interaction and therefore a random element, regardless of it being computer or paper based. It is just as likely that a paper record could be written or typed up wrongly.

    The obvious big advantage of computer based records is the speed a which you can sort through and update records in a database en mass. Imagine how long it would take, and the number of people needed, to do the same thing with manual paper records? And also consider monthly payments and changes to records. On computer this can be automated, with payments automatically being taken or being sent. On paper records each payment would need to be manually handled by a real person, making the process extremely slow and time consuming.

    The reason for all the errors in recent government stories involving computers is all down to human error. A computer after all can only do what the operator has told it to do. If one such person were to select a large group of people in the database and accidentally increase their monthly payments by 1000 instead of 100 then that is a human error, not a computer error.

    There is no such error that a computer can have the blame assigned too. Even if it is a big in the programming that creates the error, then the programmers of the program have created the error when coding the program. The computer is only ever following instructions.

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  3. #3
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    There is other reason for "computers to fail".

    The number of hours that a programmer has to work/build a software system, is getting lower and lower. Companies want more produtivity for a less money. 25 years ago, a computer programmer was really well payed, today companies are getting kids from university to programme for a small salary, and everyday the times for creating something are getting lower, so you cannot keep up the quality.

    A simple error in a big system like finances could lead to a catastrofic error.
    We seen that before.
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  4. #4
    I am Legion for we are many. Staff Member
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    There is also the "lost in translation" factor. A lot of British companies are outsourcing their programming to India and no matter how good their english or the translators Urdu some of the subtlties in the language are lost and therefore mistakes are made. The other factor is that the British government has no understanding of computers. They know that they are a good idea and that they can make life easier but do not understand them and so the government makes mistakes regarding the programmes. Also i suspect that the contracts to create these programmes are going to the cheapest bid (not necessarily the cheapest upon completion) and not the best qualified to do the work and so the british people do not get what they pay for. Government contracts are a license to print money as they never put in any penalty clause for going over budget or over time. The other problem with the Government and computers is that they do not teach anyone common sense security i.e. If you have sensitive data on removable media you do not send it via courier nor do you leave it in your computer. It should be locked away over night and sent in a secure fashion.
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    the Gov. out sources its IT, the company that gets this contract is the generally the lowest cost, and hence corners will be cut, either in hardware, software, staff training you thinking and thats an area they will of cut costs.

    as H states, computers are fast and virtually infalible... the people that use that said system, are not. another good point raised by Big B above, project development times get shorter and shorter, the programmer is not renumerated for the effort anymore. thus why i really only code projects now that have my interest in the center in some way
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  6. #6
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    Yes, like the others have said it's really poor design/use that is the problem. A lot of people in the actual real world really aren't very good with computers (here on the internet it's obviously going to be massively skewed towards the computer-proficient, although sadly that is sliding the wrong way as it's made easier for idiots to get online) and i think that is a massive factor.

    And as always, it comes down to wanting to save money by cutting corners.

    You aren't doing an essay on this are you Steve, and looking for viewpoints to discuss, are you*?

    *It's fine if you are, it just sounded very much like a computing studies sort of question.

  7. #7
    RetroSteve! My location

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    No, I'm not doing an essay or anything. I just wanted to know everyone's opinions.

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