Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Too Much, Too Hoon

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is responsible for investigating public spending and taking the government to task over waste and inefficiency. As you might expect they've unearthed some real shockers, so when they report on one project which they say was among the worst they’ve ever examined, you know it’s going to be bad.

Step forward, the Department for Transport (led from the front by everybody's favourite idiot)

They’ve been managing (no, hang on, that’s a gross misuse of the word) responsible for a “Shared Services” project designed to cut departmental administrative costs and increase efficiency. The headlines from the catalogue of disaster unveiled by the PAC are:

...the project was supposed to cost £55m and deliver £112m in savings;
...instead, it’s cost £121m and saved just £40m;
...that’s a net cost to the taxpayer of £81m, for something that was supposed to SAVE £57m;
...confidence in the underlying IT system is so low that only two out of the department’s seven agencies are using it…
......which might partly be explained by the fact that (among other things) it’s been issuing messages to users in German.

Edward Leigh, the admirable PAC Chairman, doesn’t normally mince his words but even he doesn’t use phrases like “stupendous incompetence” on a regular basis. But he did in this case. He also described the outcome of this project as “lamentable”.

What Leigh does say - on a basis so regular that he must feel like a broken record - is that senior officials should be rewarded for success and penalised for failure. He also talked about the Department for Transport’s need to overhaul its project management, review the capabilities of its managers and subject future projects to robust challenge.

All of which will have gone in one ear of the Department (if we’re lucky) and out of the other. A DoT spokesman is quoted as saying “As with any large scale and long term project, there have been aspects of Shared Services that have taken longer to implement than others…..We welcome this report and will be responding to its recommendations in due course, with an update on our progress."

Which roughly translated means: “We could not give a toss”. You'll already have guessed how many sackings or disciplinary proceedings have taken place as a result of this fiasco. That's right...a number less than one.

Full story here, if you can stand it.


Gallimaufry said...

Apparently "The department was advised by its consultants that it could achieve initial implementation within one year if it built shared services on existing systems in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, and used an existing contract with IBM, rather than go out to competitive tender."
So that's two private sector companies that fucked up as well. (And nobody ever got the sack buying IBM as the saying goes).
Shouldn't the real story be that most of the UK is crap at a senior level?

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