JEROEN VAN DER DRIFT
CAMERAMAN
Associate Member of the Netherlands Society of Cinematographers (NSC)

THE SPAGHETTI CODE
Director: Sander Rietveld
Production: Zembla

Nominated for De Loep 2016

Nominated for De Tegel 2015

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Some 5 million Dutch people depend on the Social Insurance Bank (Sociale Verzekeringsbank – SVB) for benefits, such as child benefit (Kinderbijslag) and state pension (AOW). According to the bank’s website, “We are here for everyone who receives benefits from us. Always.” But is that really true. The debacle at SVB surrounding the personal budget (PGB) payments to chronically ill and handicapped individuals is etched in the country’s collective memory. The fiasco was headline news for months. The government was called to account, too. State Secretary Van Rijn narrowly survived a vote of no confidence: the SVB operates under the auspices of his Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. There was another massive blunder on the part of the SVB that barely made the news, however. Software giant Capgemini was enlisted to update the ICT system that manages the payment of our child benefits and state pensions. The software Capgemini delivered to SVB proved unusable. In tech circles, failures of this sort are referred to as “spaghetti code,” or unreadable software. Ultimately, the government pulled the plug on the system; it had failed to work for even one day. Oddly enough, Capgemini received payment as usual for the job. The damage: tens of millions in tax money seemed to have disappeared. How was this possible? Zembla investigates how powerful software companies like Capgemini operate, and why the government pays millions of euros for non-operating computer systems.