intelligence gathering by being aware of hackers bulletin boards, examining them to identify what interests them and taking appropriate steps to protect information which may be of use to them.
NEWS Tax systems faults cost town hall As a result of continuing software problems, the UK's local authorities, using ICL's Unix council tax system, have been unable to close their financial accounts. According to Computer Weekly, the system has been plagued with faults and delays from the onset of its use. Despite monthly meetings between the users and ICL, problems still remain which affect users' ability to update records and collect tax. One of the problems experienced was late delivery of software modules for billing and issuing reminders and summonses. It was also difficult to register changes of occupation by taxpayers owing to software faults. ICL developed the council tax package jointly with third-party developer Easams, but last September ICL moved the support function entirely in-house. This has not appeased one council. Last year Surrey Health District Council decided to get rid of the system in favour of an Oracle system. However, the difficulties seem to be confined to ICL's Unix council tax package.
IT project failures admitted A quarter of IT managers in the financial sector think that most of their projects have failed, reported Computer Weekly following a survey carried out by Price Waterhouse. It seems that well-publicized failures such as the London Stock Exchange's Taurus project may only be the tip of the iceberg. The key problems highlighted in the report were delays, budget over-runs and failing to meet user needs. However, most financial services firms expect to increase their IT
spending. The annual survey included most of the UK's bigger names in banking, insurance and financial services and firms admitting to past mistakes often blamed the difficulty of integrating new systems with their business operations and poor understanding of IT among senior managers.
Securities system cause for concern Computer Weekly reports that the London Stock Exchange and its IT contractor Andersen Consulting have been left red-faced after a system designed to provide regular information about small dealings was hastily withdrawn when it started to show information about big deals. The cut-off point for the system was supposed to be deals of up to £25 000, but it also showed trades worth millions of pounds. The system was built by Andersen in conjunction with the on-going redevelopment of the exchange's trading systems. It was meant to work by filtering existing data and broadcasting a trade ticker for retail bargains in gilt edged securities. Guilt edge dealings are still carried out over the telephone and dealers have to submit reports to the exchange daily. Technically, there should have been no problem filtering trade reporting data and it is likely that there was confusion in the specification of requirements, possibly compounded by changes in executive staffing at the exchange. Andersen is working to rectify the problem, but nobody from the company would discuss the reasons for the failure.
IT keeps overall control According to a report by the Audit Commission, Information Technology provides local authorities with the best way of keeping overall control as their services and structures undergo radical change. It also found that if authorities improved the way they managed their IT systems, they could also save at least £50 million a year. With the likelihood of changes in the make-up of local authorities, it is essential that authorities change their information systems now to cope with changing responsibilities.
©1994 Elsevier Science Ltd