Yesterday's Western Morning News, had the front page, an inside page and an opinion on all this. And the paper's 'Opinion' piece was not impressed by the mealy mouthed platitudes offered by a Defra spokesperson, which they describe as an:
"anodyne and jargon-spattered response from the department, which talks about 'new functionality' [ snip] and seeks to paper over cracks rather than come clean about its shortcomings."The comment we note, is read from the same hymn sheet as that given to the FW, three weeks ago.
More of the problems with SAM are described in Farmers Guardian this week in a small snippet entitled 'IT Problems Hit Calf Exports. ' There is no online link, but the piece is as follows:
"Computer problems at the AHVLA Central Operations for Exports in Carlisle have seriously disrupted calf exports and it could be weeks before the backlog is cleared.Although the article specifically mentions calf exports, this problem would affect all cattle exports, with breeding stock also snarled up. The window for exporting after a clear TB test is just 28 days from jab day, substantially less that the 60 day home market timeline, and export office vets at Carlisle would need to check the status of the consigning herd, as well as the log jammed test charts for these animals. And that apparently, they cannot do.
Exports were suspended on September 28th. and a statement sent to Farmers Guardian by the AHVLA said a new computer system was being developed to improve customer services, but problems in a new part of the system meant the agency was unable to establish the disease status of the some cattle prior to their planned export.
AHVLA problems with SAM are only one in a series of governmental cockups introducing new IT systems. The Telegraph describes a £12 billion bungle with NHS systems, following hard on the heels of the Fire Service's abandoned flagship which ratcheted up costs of £469 million of taxpayers' (borrowed) cash before being moth balled. The Telegraph piece on the NHS system notes that:
".. last month, the MPs on the Public Accounts Committee described the system (cost: £12 billion to date) as “unworkable”."They haven't met SAM yet.
But all is not lost. While angry farmers were quick to point out on a BBC TV report, their own particular problems, snarl ups and confusing paperwork, ROD (perleese don't say Rod Who?) - Defra's acronym 'ROD' is the Regional Operations Director - a very nice man called Mark Yates appeared on camera to say that if farmers are experiencing any problems with SAM, they should report them directly to him.
According to his CV, Mr. Yates has been ROD for the South West for 2 years after a nine year stint in 'the army'. Now that could mean he was used to giving orders - or conversely, more used to taking them. But we digress:
Mark Yates, the South West's very own ROD is based at Exeter, and can be contacted on 01392 266373 - if the phones are turned on.
For readers in other areas of the UK, every AHVLA region has its very own ROD and they can be contacted from this list.