Wednesday, February 08, 2012

SAM chaos - it " should never have happened"

Speaking in oral evidence to the EFRA committee on 1st February, SAM, Defra's new, all singing but not dancing, computer system gets a mention in the last few minutes of the video.

More of that session in a separate posting. But to save you ploughing through over an hour of yawning and banter important information which affects every livestock keeper, Farmers Guardian reports the highlights.

Asked by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee chairman Anne McIntosh if she anticipated the problems would be resolved and when, Catherine Brown (Defra Chief Executive) said:
“They are not resolved yet. We are in the process of resolving them. We should have resolved them already. It is extremely urgent to resolve the problems.”
Errr yes. But to do that, first one must accept that there is a problem. And reading the jargon spattered blumph dropping through farmer's letterboxes about these computer problems, (problems of which farmers are on the receiving end) over the last months, one could be forgiven for thinking that such problems were 'minor' - if they existed at all.

Ms. Brown went on to say that AHVLA had put measures in place to mitigate the impacts of the problems on the ground and had ‘put in fixes’ to the system over the past two weeks. There is another batch of fixes going in on 2 February; there is another going in on the 9th.
"We are continuing to fix it as fast as we possibly can." she said.
(We understand there have been several hundred fixes to date - they are ongoing - ed)
Devon Conservative MP Neil Parish described huge problems faced by his constituents, including getting licences to move cattle to slaughter etc. He asked:
“Bluntly, why is it that, in the 21st century, the Government put in a system that they pay good money for and it does not damn well work?”
Ms Brown acknowledged that it ‘should not happen’.
“We have a lot of administrative staff doing things that we should not need to be doing if all those minor things were not wrong with the system. It is not a minor problem overall; it is a significant problem, and it is achieving our absolutely top attention, but it is not like one cataclysmic or hugely insoluble problem with the system that might mean it is never going to work. It is a succession of small things,” she said.
And that most revealing description of this AHVLA chaos is a far cry from the sanguine and anodyne load of tosh delivered to every livestock keeper last week which we reported in this posting and which was described here.

Apart from the glitches, fixes and other problems, we understand that SAM has a major flaw which could not by any stretch of the imagination be described as 'small'. And that relates to its data input. Once on screen, data cannot be changed without losing all the input. This is causing much extra input time if TB test data is to be recorded correctly. But worse than that, we have been told that once SAM's 'Submit' button is pressed, data cannot be retrieved for amendment. SAM has swallowed it and will not regurgitate for any corrections.

Which could explain why cattle culled in the 2001 FMD carnage are still appearing on some farmer's testing instructions - like SAM, they refuse to die.

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