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Bug Government Software The Almighty Buck Transportation United Kingdom

Spreadsheet Blamed For UK Rail Bid Fiasco 125

First time accepted submitter Bruce66423 writes "As a sometime computer programmer who was always very sniffy about the quality of the stuff being knocked up by amateurs aka power users, the current claim that it was a messed up spreadsheet that caused a multi-million pound fiasco is very satisfying. 'The key mechanism... mixed up real and inflated financial figures and contained elements of double counting.'"
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Spreadsheet Blamed For UK Rail Bid Fiasco

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  • Re:WTF (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2012 @12:47PM (#41569103)

    It's funny though, the stuff that programmers want to write custom code to accomplish, when a general-purpose program exists that can solve the same problem.

  • Re:Ban power users! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KingTank ( 631646 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @01:04PM (#41569263)

    Get all those stupid computers off people's desks! Things were much better when you had to go to a programmer in order to get software to do anything!

    And (not incidentally) it would eliiminate all the productivity that's lost to Slashdot!

    Your sarcasm is unwarranted. This is a nice story for us programmers because it's just the kind of anecdote that makes businesses seriously consider hiring more professional programmers. Nobody is suggesting you need custom software for everything.

  • Re:ubiquitous (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2012 @02:01PM (#41569803)

    I'm an actuary and at my company, the programmers are pushing to replace Excel based tools with tools based on in house software. It's a disaster since the programmers have no grasp of what Excel does right. Before, users could trace calculations back to their source, and if something wasn't done properly it could be overridden, but now we get an HTML file showing the calculation with the "formula" in the margin. I put formula in quotes because we don't actually see the code the program executes, we just see what the programmer wrote describing the expression hat was evaluated.

    The programmers have been claiming that they can get it so it just works and then our complaints should be moot, but so far they've never gotten close.

    On top of that, by leaving Excel you lose things like robust cut and paste and undo history for user inputs. Plus the user interface makes it easy to overwrite your saved results with a scratch calclation.

  • Re:WTF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Herr Brush ( 639981 ) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @03:18PM (#41570489)
    Its funny how the IT department doesn't want to build the apps in the first place which means end users have to do the work themselves.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas