May 7, 2021


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Post office scandal reveals hidden IT information that the government believes but does not understand

The 39 postal workers found guilty The UK Court of Appeals was acquitted on April 23 after hearing that the alleged crimes were actually committed by the Horizon IT system.

The practice, introduced by Fujitsu, an IT service provider in Japan, has led to miscalculations at post offices, which have led to hundreds of cases of theft, fraud and fraudulent accounts. Between 2000 and 2014. One of the biggest injustices in British history is scandal.

But postal scandals are far more widespread. After ten years of IT service, government officials have no control over technologies that could endanger lives. To avoid future scandals, we must take responsibility for the digital systems at the heart of governance – rather than destroying IT organizations and their products when things go wrong.

Computers in Government

Computer systems have been in government for 70 years. Post Office In 1943, it was the first British department to introduce such a system, developing the world’s first digital computing computer. Blaletley Park During World War II.

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But for the most part, the post office provided its computer systems to major international computer service providers in the 1990s. After that, they seem to be neglected wherever possible, believing in the value of the huge contract as a guarantee of loyalty and reliability.

While that was the horizon, full of bugs and mischief at the time Implemented in 1999, Has been involved in a number of scandals, Errors And Failures Over the next decade.

This latest scandal is a common occurrence among officials who blindly trust computer systems as the true source of information and truth. And this attitude goes beyond the post office – in all government departments.

Providing IT service

Over the years, government departments in the United Kingdom have stopped inventing technology and are now offering it to computer service providers. Linn England since the 1990sMega IT contract. ”

for instance, HMRC 1994 External Service Agreement It was the largest IT service provider in the world at the time with ADS. The next contract was the initial ነት 4.3 billion ነት ነት ነት ነት ነት ነት ጀ ጀ ጀ ጀ ጀ ጀ ጀ ጀ GE C GE C GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE GE

HMRC has a long history of awarding huge IT contracts to help manage departmental obligations.
Ascano / Schutterstock

During this time, the National Audit Office (NAO) produced a numerical database Reports of humiliation On government IT supply – cost overruns, failed projects, faulty systems and faulty contract relationships. But these “one more IT disaster” stories have left the mainstream media in tears.

Nobody was interested in “heritage systems” such as Horizon. They have been neglected in public administration scholarships, writing my own PhD and First book About them. But these complex mega contracts did not know anything about the systems that department officials trusted.

Many of these misconduct have been perpetrated by the government. After decades of computer use problems, the Department of Labor and Pensions has struggled to build a new international credit system alongside new systems. as if 2018 ReportIn addition to running the systems in parallel, Nao has identified nearly $ 1 billion in additional running costs, highlighting new errors and payment delays. Human Rights Watch.

Linn In 2020, another NAO report found that border guards were relying on 26-year system To find out if suspects and interested people are trying to enter the UK. The delay has cost the taxpayer 17 173 million, as the outdated system is no longer appropriate.

Who is responsible?

Older systems represent a gap of accountability: general levels of governance where no one is held accountable. The implications of this belief in the power of blind computers and their supply to the government are even more significant today.

The post office system was not particularly complex, nor did it affect policy making. But today, information-based technologies are increasingly being used to make decisions about people’s lives: How many prison sentences It has to be, what people it has to be Cross-border, Must be children Taken to caution Or what is theirs Diagnostic results should be.

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Step-by-step: Why algorithms are so wrong – and what we need to do to correct them

Last summer, the prime minister said,Alternative algorithmFor the O qual qualifying results, Fisco, A-grade students will be ranked lower if they live in poorer areas. The beating was actually a mistake in the e-statistics method Is not controlled by experts. Countless algorithms of worship are convenient, but otherwise they miss the point Accountability and transparency, Government IT systems can lead to many harms.

We wash the waves of technology like an unstoppable force. But we can build in control. We set up the Allan Turin Institute Public Policy Program To help the government realize the potential of the next-generation information-on technologies, they have developed the first official directive Safe and ethical use In the public sector.

Postal scams show that similar practices should be applied to older heritage systems and unknown algorithms. Today’s government is completely dependent on digital estate. To find the kind of digital technology we want, we must build accountability and transparency in this forgotten, hidden, mysterious world. The kind that does not ruin human life.