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Ardue Site Plan
Thirty-some years after the introduction of computers into government departments, the news media still report dis-spiriting incidents of serious malfunctions in computer-assisted information systems. Hence I have decided to compile a "systems manual" summarising what I have learned during the last thirty-some years.
On 1 February, it was reported that a new Web site intended to enable citizens to learn about the incidence of crime in their local areas was so popular that the system crashed: but not before several readers complained about the factual inaccuracy of some of the content.
On 6 February, the Foreign Secretary alluded to cyber warfare and stated that attempts by foreign governments to "break into" government information systems had become facts of daily life.
It must be admitted that designing fool-proof systems for government departments is fraught with unusual difficulties. Politicians are always making new laws and amending old ones without paying much regard to the consequences for the information systems on which they rely for support and which are therefore never stable for long enough to eliminate malfunctions and allow long periods of trouble-free operation.
It is therefore all the more important that government systems and their associated sub-systems should at the outset be specified in such a way as to ensure that fundamental unchanging requirements are clearly defined and documented to ensure a robust system "core" around which changes necessitated by legislation may be clearly identified and implemented securely with minimal impact on system operators by the addition of function-specific "modules".
What I offer here is a sort of Mrs Beeton's Book of Computer Management to help all sorts and conditions of information purveyors to serve nourishing and wholesome diets of food for thought. Completeness and consistency together add up to truth.