DVSA receives ‘Digital’ award for MOT computer

To the surprise of many Testing Station owners, if they had ever heard about it, recently the DVSA won an award for the recent computerisation project. The award, awarded by an organisation called Digital Leaders 100, was for, “Cross sector Digital Collaboration”. The citation accompanying the award said:

“The key to the success of the DVSA’s MOT modernisation project was continuous collaboration between users and the project team.”

What they did not reveal was that the initially computerised MOT system fell far short of what was initially planned, and promised to the MOT Trade, when the old Atos system was shut down in September 2015. Not only was it a very basic service, but it also costs Testing Stations more money to operate than the previous system (which has not yet been recompensed by any increase in the MOT fee), and was initially very unstable and unreliable.

Whilst the system is now reasonably reliable and stable, and is undoubtedly easier and quicker to use, it still has its deficiencies as compared with the Atos system.
The lack of ‘Vehicle Specific’ data is a serious shortfall in the new system, and Testing Station owners and their trade body representatives are still asking when the MOT fee is going to be increased to compensate for the cost of computers and internet access not required by the previous system.

The system even attracted a bad press when it featured in the National newspapers when motorists were unable to tax their vehicles because their MOT either couldn’t be done, or was done, but when the website was down, so the DVLA were unable to verify the vehicle’s MOT status.

It is certainly open to question as to whether or not it justifies DVSA’s triumphant response to receiving the award, part of which described it as, “a digital service which is easy to use, flexible and less expensive…” Less expensive for the DVSA, yes, but not for Testing Stations!

Ironically this is a clear mimic of what happened after the first computerisation of the MOT by Siemens in 2005. That was an absolute debacle… the system when switched on crashed immediately costing Testing Stations thousands of pounds and leaving thousands of motorists unable to tax their vehicles.

Then, after it was (at long last!) stabilised, guess what? Yes, VOSA got an award for digital competence as a result of its outstanding success.
Its all a bit too much like propaganda from the old Soviet Union wherein every set-back was hailed as an unqualified success.

Or perhaps something out of ‘Yes Minister’: 2005: new MOT computer installed – it fails completely, takes months to remedy, “what shall we do”, asks the Minister. “That’s easy Minister, get the Scheme an IT award”. 2015, new MOT Computer, less functionality than the old one, a shaky start, more expensive for Testing Stations, still less functionality months later, “what shall we do?” asks the Minister. “That’s easy Minister, get the Scheme an IT award”.

In both cases, however, they made sure that the awarding body didn’t communicate with MOT Trade bodies or the motoring public, who might have painted a much less rosy picture of both Schemes!

So, is this what we can expect from DVSA in the future? Projects being inadequate and late due to bad planning, shoddy delivery, consultation, but lack of proper dialogue with the trade, disastrous implementation, and finally, as a slap in the face to motorists, and the many thousands of businesses inconvenienced and out of pocket from the experience, an award for ‘excellence’ from an organisation which did not consult with Testing Stations’ trade bodies directly before making the award!

Perhaps Testing stations should start responding to DVSA’s accusations of bad Testing by awarding themselves accolades for outstanding customer service.

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