June 12th, 2013

Whitehall Really Does Waste 7 Minutes Starting Computers

Sue Cameron, the civil service toady, is quick to attack anyone that has the temerity to question her darling mandarins. Last week she put the boot into Stephen Kelly, the former FTSE 100 exec turned UK Government Chief Operating Officer:

“Mr Kelly claimed this week that it took him seven minutes to boot up his PC – the equivalent of three days every year. He also complained that Whitehall’s desktop computers cost £6,000 a year to run – enough to buy 10 iPads. This, he said, was “government in the old world”. Again, such claims sound damning – but you have to ask if someone, somewhere is being economical with the truth.”

Not happy with being called a liar in the pages of the Telegraph, Mr Kelly has made a little video:

Kelly tweeted that he was “keen to be transparent”. Guido wonders whether Sue will apologise in her column tomorrow?


  1. 1
    Andrew Efiong says:

    Aha, looks like public sector computers are as slack and unproductive as the staff who use them.

  2. 2
    John Tandy says:

    I know who I believe don’t you ?

  3. 3
    Bill Gates says:

    Why are they not using LINUX?

  4. 4
    Strangers' Barman says:

    We know that you are impla

  5. 5
    S-E Loon says:

    It was the same when I worked in the public sector. We could pretty well run the whole of the NHS on the money wasted on in-house procurement and development of IT systems in state-run ‘organisations’.

  6. 6
    Guido supporter says:

    We know that you are “imp)placably ruthless” about the wrongdoings of others..

    We support you on that

    But have you any comment to make on the mulitple arrests and charges of your colleagues on the Sun?


  7. 7
    S-E Loon says:

    Someone tell him to change his password(s).

  8. 8
    mad, swivel-eyed loon says:

    So Dave, how’s the headlines going about winning powers back?


    So prisoners are going to get the vote.


    And even his own people are telling him that he won’t get any powers renegotiated for the UK.

  9. 9
    Johnny says says:

    He doesn’t have to sit there twiddling his thumbs each morning. Switch computer on then do something else while it starts up.

    Whoever recorded the video wants sacking too – put the phone in landscape next time!

  10. 10
    Yossarian says:

    There are many problems with the Internet – trolls are a problem – as are people with little understanding who say very silly things because they think in contrast to their comments all will assume they are rigorous and highly productive. Bless.

  11. 11
    mort says:

    7 mins,and 6k bargain… once you factor in the updates, antivirus scans etc I would be surprised if they didn’t lose around a working day a month across the board.

    Then you have the “I can’t print” issues to factor in as well, maybe we should just them notepads and calculators(though not sure why they would need these apart from totting up their bonuses and expenses)

  12. 12
    JH39842398403924 says:

    Putting a phone in Landscape takes at least seven minutes.

  13. 13
    E Z P Z says:

    Why don’t they leave them in password protected sleep mode?

  14. 14
    Chas says:

    Kelly is an idiot. Seven minutes is far too long for a PC to boot up but no-one but a dope just sits there waiting for it. They get on with some work while it is booting up.

  15. 15
    IT nerd says:

    This is all Parkinson’s Law gone mad

    Do you think the computers speak to eachother before they “boot up”?

    Or is there something more sinister?

    Do they have to connect to NSA/CHQ before opening up?

    Or to Murdoch Mob or Chinese hackers?

  16. 16
    Shit hot IT expert says:

    Well done to Stephen for showing this. Most departmental networked systems are bad, but this one looks worst than most. The first stage – going thru the Becrypt hard disk encryption handshake (because he’s a laptop user) should only take 10 to 15 seconds rather than the circa 2 mins it seems to take for him. The second stage – authentication to the network (Cabinet Office) should also normally be circa 10 to 20 seconds before he is presented with the Windows logon screen (Ctrl-Alt-Del) rather than another 2 mins. The third stage – personalisation of his Desktop screen and presentation of his resources (Outlook etc) should be no more than 30 secs or so if he is logging on at 7am when few users will be logged on.
    So in a nutshell – he’s using a really poorly managed system. Its the Flex contract run by Fujitsu and due for renewal/replacement in 2014 – I think. no doubt Fuji got hardly any departments to adopt their “offering” lol so they’ve spent about zero resources and effort to optimise it or make it user friendly. Instead they’re no doubt doing the absolute minimum necessary to meet their contractual obligations – no doubt this was a brilliantly negotiated contract written by the commercial “experts” in the CO.
    Does Cameron get this level of service? No wonder Whitehall is always on the back foot….

  17. 17
    YoungInnocent says:

    There are massive overcharges across the public sector for basic things like PC installation, network management, etc. The likes of Atos, Siemens, Computacenter, HP, etc, overcharging and fleecing the taxpayer. Their contracts are controlled by easily-manipulated and ‘managed’ civil servants, who are eased onto contracts with the said companies via the revolving door once they ‘resign’ as civil servants. I’ve worked in numerous govt departments as a small-time IT consultant and seen it over and over again. Things that were charged £10m for that could literally have been done for a hundred grand using newer technology. Any challenges to the status quo are directed to the super-contractors from the private sector to answer, who of course rebuff them.

  18. 18
    Global warming zealot says:

    Think of all the wasted energy, the global warming and all those starving babies in Africa and Mauritius going under water, the polar bears dying…

  19. 19
    Denis Macshane says:

    I’ve got some spare laptops if anyone wants one. After all, you already paid for it.

  20. 20
    Got a new Crayon says:

    No money in open source for lobbyists.

  21. 21
    He needs to show initiative. says:

    The bloke is an imbecile or a product of new Labour.

    Waiting for the Pute to flash up is the perfect opportunity to have a fag and a cuppa and solve a few clues in the Telegraph Cryptic.

  22. 22
    Larry The Cat says:

    I used to work in the Home Office. We were having a new IT system installed for about 50 staff. Nothing fancy. Just a basic network with file servers and MS Exchange and MS Office. You can almost buy this off the shelf these days but no. Because this was to meet the government secure internet standard (a very basic standard) I was astounded to find that the Home Office had employed a consultant as Project Manager on £2000 a day. He was supported by a team of 2 or 3 technical consultants.

    From memory it took 3 months. Quite why we couldn’t work out but I think it was because the Home Office kept changing the specification!!

    The consultants were actually very good and nice guys. But on £2000 a day one would be.

  23. 23
    Bert says:

    Suspicious that your post has been cut off in the middle of a sent

  24. 24
    WessexMan says:

    I once had a boss who told me that turning up to the office at 9am was not appropriate. I was instructed to turn up at 8:45am so that I had time to boot my machine (get a coffee, whatever..) so that I was ready to START working at 9am.

    Perhaps Whitehall doesn’t believe that you should be ready to start your publicly funded work on time…

  25. 25
    Surge says:

    I would wager. Hundreds of thousands of computers all booting up from scratch at the same time while their operators use their phones to update facebook is enough to switch on a couple of standby power stations.

  26. 26
    D'jango says:

    Off topic but Ms Sally B has been caught panties down and in a twist flooging furniture on eBay (the Sun). Why no feature Guido?

  27. 27
    Silver Pieces says:

    Because no money changes hands in persuading procurement to use free software.

  28. 28
    Larry The Cat says:

    Mention ‘Instant on’ as a concept to most civil servants and 10% will immediately go sick with management induced stress

    But this 7 minutes is not wasted every morning. Its just about enough time for

    * making first coffee at refreshment center
    * a quick first drag outside with the other addicts
    * nip to the loo for a qick one and a read of the sun for 10 mins

    knowing that hwen I return my machine will be sitting ready. If it hasn’t failed on boot or gone into hibernation ’cause i overstayed and 30 mins have gone by

  29. 29
    Anonymous says:

    This is just like the local council computers. Plus they lockup if you do not enter the password within seconds. So you have to stay attentive.

    Impossible to use off site, when the system has to timeout waiting for the network.

  30. 30
    David Cameron says:

    Listen, I am not making a success of being PM, right? You think I don’t know it? I am a failure. But I still have to look at myself in the mirror in the morning, and if I am going to go down in history as One-Term Dave The Failure, at least let me have a shot at being a Heroic Failure. Please?

  31. 31
    MB. says:

    I wonder how much is because in most systems everything is now held on the network. It is even worse when you work out in the sticks and have a slow network connection. At my work we had a system that relied completely for the network connection and was unusable without it but we spent a lot of our time working on remote sites with no network connection.

    I remember many years ago someone wrote that initially computers were completely in the control of the IT department (wasn’t called that then) and you handed a job in on punched cards, if you were lucky they might run it that week.

    Then the first Apples appeared with Visicalc and people went out and bought them from petty cash so they could be independent of the IT people.

    PCs came along and for some time people were still not completely dependent on the IT department.

    Then gradually they got control back by putting everything on the network that was under their control.

  32. 32
    Prism - Echelon says:

    Nothing to see here, this is not the post that you’re looking for.

  33. 33
    Del Boy Bercow says:

    Sally Bercow selling Grace and Favour furniture after Taxpayer funded refit.


  34. 34
    C.O.Jones says:


  35. 35
    Will someone, anyone, care to look at the facts? says:

    Renegotiation requires Treaty change. Unilateral Treaty change, requires invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, something Dave will never do.

    Got it yet?

  36. 36
    -- says:

  37. 37
  38. 38
    C.O.Jones says:


  39. 39
    Tarquin says:

    XP? The government has 10 months to upgrade their systems

    Maybe Microsoft will help them?


  40. 40
    Dave von Drackuler says:

    When you look in the mirror do you see your reflection, or the empty wall behind you?

  41. 41
    Anonymous says:

    “Please hold while I try to reboot. Is there anything I can help you with while all my data from the previous day is uploaded to the central repository. It might be quicker if we actually just met downstairs for a coffee and I you gave me a copy of the email you sent.”

    “Unfortunately my computer takes 7 minutes to reboot and the timeslot for the presentation is 10 minutes. I will therefore abandon any hope of doing this deal and instead tell you about my recent holiday. “

  42. 42
    Dave von Drackuler says:

    He probably does – but he needed to make the point, having been insulted in a daily newspaper.

  43. 43
    mad, swivel-eyed loon says:

    I remember around the turn of the millennium, when SAP was being introduced at our company, we had plenty of contract IT staff working on it. They were very well paid at that time of high demand.

    One guy used to come into work in his Ferrari every day. HR got a little upset by this, thinking it was bad for staff morale, so they asked him not to come to work in it. So he swapped his car with a mate (in the same industry) and promptly came to work the next day in a Lamborghini.

    I must admit, that two fingers up to HR did make me smile. Rumour had it that he basically said, let me drive my car or find someone else. Because of the shortage of specialised contractors then, they caved in, anyway, his Ferrari was back in the car park the next day.

  44. 44
    East is east and west is west etc... says:

    I once worked in a Government office (no names, no pack drill) where the system on my desk was Wordperfect – and the rest of my team along the same corridor had Windows. Email and other intra-office connectivity was extremely rare in those days, but not being able to connect electronically with my staff was a touch inconvenient!

  45. 45
    Joe Bonanno says:

    Ah yes I-Pads – a glorified and expensive toy; but apparently a must-have tool of the trade for public sector workers buying them with other peoples money.

  46. 46
    Real world experience says:

    Its worse than that in the MOD. And the re procurement of their desktop and telephoney services is on track to make it even worse with the shambles ATOS, Vega, and ISG are making of running the procurement.

  47. 47
    beast says:

    And now with the help of a manifing glass I have this idiots pasword

  48. 48
    Lord Flashman says:

    Multi-tasking – getting on with other work while your PC boots-up – is the standing instruction to Whitehall Civil Servants. Therefore, why is it beyond the ken of very senior management to do the same? How much public money is this idiot being paid? The Private-sector run the IT system in Whitehall not Civil Servants. It is undertaken by contractors – you know like Edward Snowden. I can see several points of Criminal Law and the Civil Service Code of conduct being broken in the production of this video. I guess the Met is too busy busting hippies than taking breaches of the Official Secrets Act seriously. By the way Guido better check Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act 1989 because you are also in the frame for disseminating the video.

  49. 49
    Wyle Cop says:

    “Government in the old world”, eh?

    This is what happens when you outsource IT to… er… FTSE companies like Crapita or Fujitsu.

    Bring it back inhouse. Ditto the railways.

  50. 50
    Do you think she own it says:

    The items she’s selling on ebay have most likely been bought with taxpayers money as they seem to be quite expensive. The items she’s buying on ebay are most likely being bought with her own money as they look like cheap carp. When it’s on expenses it’s got to be the best money can buy, when the parasites have to pay from their own pockets any old carp will do.

  51. 51
    Anonymous says:

    Stupid fucker obviously doesn’t know how to multi-task. So he’s lost 7 minutes that he’d otherwise spend reading Guido or checking Facebook – big deal. I’d prefer it if it took the whole of the working day for public sector employees to boot their PC’s – at least then they’d be largely restricted from interfering in our daily lives.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    Anonymous says:

    Absolutley! What ever happended to IT departments directly employed who resond in a timely manner to requets… I’m sure if they had they own IT not outsourced we could be building programmes and systems that actually help and all within a salary rather than out of this world SLA’s with a charge per automated e-mail generated!

  54. 54
    Anonymous says:

    Absolutley! What ever happended to IT departments directly employed who resond in a timely manner to requets… I’m sure if they had they own IT not outsourced we could be building programmes and systems that actually help and all within a salary rather than out of this world SLA’s with a charge per automated e-mail generated!

  55. 55
    Gaye Mann (Mrs) says:

    Be fair, PRISM has to be alerted and given a few minutes to snaffle up new documents

  56. 56
    Screwed Taxpayer says:

    Why not sack all these useless parasitical Civil Servants. Save the inflated salaries, gold plated pensions etc. as well as eliminating the need for any of these PCs etc.

    Just get rid of the fuckers Dave.

  57. 57
    TotallyPissedOff says:

    And yet the usual suspects get the contracts again and again. They go in cheap as chips and then after winning on price they charge for any change however small so updates don’t happen, nothing is upgraded. I have a central government client still running a critical system on SQL 2000, could be worse I suppose, could be 6.5.

  58. 58
    Spirit of Queen Victoria says:

    One ran Great Britain with 4000 Civil Servants. One understands that now there are hundreds of thousands of them. You really have allowed the Country to degenerate.

  59. 59
    Hugh Jampton says:

    My wife is a senior civil servant in BIS. Their computer system would be funny if it wasn’t so sad (i.e. I’m paying for the bloody thing). And yes, Fujitsu …

  60. 60
    TotallyPissedOff says:

    Anonymous, as the Civil Service made a complete balls up of running IT internally the solution chosen was to outsource. I never understood why they were not just made to do their jobs properly or face the sack but then I’m just a simple techie.

  61. 61
    Kw eers R Us says:

    Dave. You’re not a failure. You will have legalised Gay Marriage.

  62. 62
    A nerd says:

    It’s not just the slackers in the public sector.

    I worked for an American multi-national that was kind enough to supply me with a 10 year old laptop to work from. It took five minutes to boot and a further 25 minutes to apply the security settings once I had logged in – it scanned the hard disk every morning.

    Considering they how much they were paying for my services it would have been cheaper to buy me a new computer each week …

  63. 63
    Anonymous says:

    Exactly my Thoughts!

  64. 64
    Anonymous says:

    Probably because they’re using a heap of legacy applications that require XP or DOS.

    Cheap and easy upgrade for those machines – swap the internal disk drive for a Solid State Drive. Cost about £75 per machine (can probably get a discount if you’re buying in the thousands), an hour’s drive cloning and you’ll cut the load-up time down by about 90%.

    But I don’t work for the thivil thervice, so what would I know.

  65. 65
    forgotten man says:

    8mins startup?

    £6000/y maintenance? PER PC!

    Working in the real world is far too unprofitable!

    And they expect their damned PCs to start in 2mins!

    I NEED a nice cushy government support contract or two….

  66. 66

    Z.Z.Z.Z.Z.Z.Z.Z.Z.Z.Z.Z.Z.Z. Itsagame innit?

  67. 67
    Anonymous says:

    @ 7:18 “urine, urine”

  68. 68
    michaelozanne says:

    Still could be worse, he could be on the DII…

  69. 69
    JH39842398403924 says:

    True. Did the same for my desktop, and it now boots in 15 seconds flat.

  70. 70
    JH39842398403924 says:

    Mind you, it’s not loaded high with the bullshit VPN and crap they insist using in the public sector.

  71. 71
    Anonymous says:

    nice to see him breach security and reveal his passowrd to the world trust he has reported himself…..

  72. 72
    Bill Gates says:

    As COO you’d think he’d have noticed that most of his staff have upgraded to windows 7 which allows log in to a highly secure system in a small fraction of the time.

  73. 73
    Addanc says:

    Good of him to put his password in the public domain

  74. 74
    Andrew Efiong says:

    I have a very successful career and a healthy family. All’s well.

    But not in Whitehall where even the IT hardware is full of slackers!

  75. 75
    Anonymous says:

    Yup, at this level in government this isn’t going to be a like a home PC.

    Full disk encryption, vpn , heavy duty firewall & AV, various monitoring packages, etc. All the kind of stuff they will have mandated in the contract to keep the pcs secure – being very high value targets to state sponsored hacking. It’s real and not bullshit. But it does look like this one is particularly bad – could be something as simple as a few bad sectors on the hdd.

    Unfortunately being an MP he thinks he can buy 10 ipads instead. Presumably that way he can leave 9 of them on the train and still be able to play angry birds.

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