Thursday, November 22, 2007

Another Sign of Data Mismanagement Within Government

Remember THIS story I wrote a couple of days ago, about someone receiving discs from the DWP with rather more information on them thanm they had bargained for? The story is taken on a stage further in today's Eastern Daily Press HERE. Here's an extract...
Copies of call-centre telephone conversation recordings about child tax credit claims were mistakenly sent to two people in Norwich who had been pursuing a dispute with the HM Customs and Revenue.The pair had received the recordings on a CD after requesting information from the HM Customs and Revenue relating to themselves on a different matter. They subsequently passed it on to Norwich North MP Ian Gibson, who forwarded it to ministers.Dr Gibson said he was given
the disk about three weeks ago and said he had been given assurances that the problems had been sorted out.It is not clear how much data was stored on the disk, but the information is thought to be recordings of conversations about tax credit claims, which are routinely recorded for data protection purposes.“Two constituents, came to see me in my office,” he said. “They had been having a discussion with the Inland Revenue about some personal issues and had asked for the conversations to be recorded.What they wanted was a recording of their discussion on child tax credits,” he said. “In the copy they got there was other information on it. “There were things about tax credits and things like that. It was information that shouldn't be divulged.“I sent it to the minister and asked if there was a problem. I've spoken to the minister about it and the mistake has been rectified, so that it cannot happen again.” A spokeswoman for the HMRC said: “This was caused by an equipment error which we have identified and has been rectified. We have checks in place to ensure all CDs sent out to customers are correct and we have reviewed these since this incident and further strengthened them. We have apologised to the individual concerned.”

This sort of thing beggars belief and demonstrates that there is systemic failure at the heart of government in the use of confidential data.


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't happen under a Tory Govt. though? Presumably they'd sack everyone and employ new, more caring civil servants?

what was that about Party Politics Iain?

Scary Biscuits said...

It also suggests that ministers knew of systemic problems and is more evidence that Darling and Brown have misled Parliament.

In answer to the previous post about party politics, this IS about politics and not just another random error.

Labour have confused two roles in the Civil Service and other government agencies: (1) delivering important services and (2) acting as an employment agency of last resort.

This second role has been done on such a scale that it is the underlying cause of many of the problems Labour is facing. The public sector has been stuffed so full of cash that it doesn't know its arse from its elbow; it is so full of people that they can't move without tripping over each other; too many people have been recruited from the bottom of the pile and (unlike the army) the Civil Service lacks the management expertise to make effective use of these people.

Thus, the lost data and other scandals are a direct result of ministerial priorities.

Anonymous said...


North Down DUP MLA Peter Weir has claimed that the data protection failures at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are more systemic than first thought. The DUP MLA was making his comments after a constituent contacted him concerning a letter he received from HMRC advising him of a loss of his personal data contained on a Compact Disc.

Mr. Weir’s constituent recently took out a personal pension and the HMRC was tasked with transferring his data to the pension provider. The constituent has recently received a letter detailing how the Compact Disc, storing his personal details, has been lost by HMRC’s external courier while it was being transferred to the pension company. Speaking today the DUP MLA said:

“In the recent media furore over the details of 25 million people being lost by HMRC serious questions have been asked about the data protection protocols which are in place within that organization.

Some government spin doctors have been attempting to assure us that the loss of this information by HMRC was a one-off event brought about by the error of a single junior clerk at the organisation. The letter which my constituent received and which I have a copy of belies those assertions.

It is clear that HMRC’s data handling protocols are subject to systemic failure. The loss of personal banking details and national insurance information by an institution of government which is charged with the protection and care of such information has caused my constituent considerable distress and raises serious questions about the goings-on inside HMRC.

Whilst the loss of the two discs has captured the public attention this week, through my constituent’s incident it is apparent that this is no mere freak occurrence or one-off.

I am pleased that Peter Robinson announced this week an urgent review of the data handling procedures across all government Departments in Northern Ireland. It is now vital that the Chancellor of the Exchequer does likewise for HMRC.

People should be under no illusion at all: this is a very serious matter indeed. Members of the public are extremely concerned that central government cannot guarantee the safety of their private details.

Unless the Chancellor moves quickly to allay those public concerns in a meaningful way I think his future will be called into question. This is a resigning matter.”