Osborne’s immediate plan of 30% cuts


5:38 pm - September 13th 2009

by Sunder Katwala    


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There is a potentially important revelation in Peter Oborne’s Daily Mail column today, which is mostly an entertainingly argued dismissal of the ‘push-me, pull-you ‘oxymoron’ of ‘progressive conservatism’, as a Blairesque ‘all things to all people’ project.

Oborne worries that about the mixed messages, but is confident that plans are being drawn up for the spending axe to fall more sharply

On the one hand Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has sent out the solid ‘conservative’ message to the City that he will enforce huge public spending cuts. Simultaneously, however, Cameron and other members of the Shadow Cabinet are keen to put out a more ‘progressive’ message …

The truth is that Osborne will be forced to implement swingeing cuts after the election. Indeed, I can reveal he has ordered the Treasury’s permanent secretary, Nick Macpherson, to find savings of nearly 30 per cent in departmental budgets which would come into effect immediately if the Tories gain power.

Oborne welcomes this approach but wants the Tories to come clean ahead of the election.

As usual, the paragon of honesty and virtue in these matters is Margaret Thatcher. But Oborne seems to me to require a rather dramatic rewriting of history to do so.

In 1979, Margaret Thatcher was honest about what she would do, if elected, to sort out the economic shambles bequeathed her by Jim Callaghan. She got her reward for honesty when in her administration’s first Budget, Chancellor Geoffrey Howe raised VAT to 15 per cent. The next day’s newspapers led with the headline: ‘You got what you voted for.’

Hmmm. This is what might be called a ‘highly revisionist’ account. The 1979 budget’s rise in VAT is not usually considered a primary example of frankness and honesty in election campaigning.

Quite the opposite. As the FT’s Alex Barker blogged recently on this ‘legendary Geoffrey Howe dodge‘ recommending Nick Timmins’ account of ‘How the Tories kept secret of 15% tax hike sets out how there had been discussions of an increase from 8 per cent to 15 or 17.5 per cent in February 1978. 11 months before the election, they had adopted a secret policy to impose a 15 per cent rise immediately after the election.

Far from welcoming frank Tory plans to raise VAT and preparing their readers for what was to come, as Oborne implies, the Daily Mail attacked Labour claims of a secret Tory plan to double VAT as one of “Labour’s dirty dozen lies”.

Geoffrey Howe’s memoirs rejected the idea that it was misleading to state that “we have absolutely no intention of doubling VAT” during the campaign:

We had no difficulty denying it. For there was no prospect, on even the most gloomy of expectations, of our having to go beyond a rate of 15 per cent. Some critics afterwards thought it pedantically misleading to rest our case on the fact that twice 8 per cent (the then basic rate) was 16 and not 15 per cent …

If this is the model of honest campaigning to be emulated, then don’t be surprised if Osborne insists that the report of 30% cuts are a speculative exaggeration – and then goes for 29.5% instead.

——————–
cross-posted from Next Left

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About the author
Sunder Katwala is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is the director of British Future, a think-tank addressing identity and integration, migration and opportunity. He was formerly secretary-general of the Fabian Society.
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Reader comments


So what ? It’s no different to Brown and Madelson farting on about “investment” when we are running a 20% defecit. Whoever is in power will have a choice: spending cuts or bankrupcy.

Gee, are you saying that politicians are dishonest?

If only you looked into Obama Beach’s claims so thoroughly. For how long did he bleat on about public spending continuing to rise, when everyone knew (from the IFS report) that departmental budget had to be cut by 7% on the government own figures? We even had that ludicrous moment in PMQs when he tried to accuse the Conservatives of being the party of unemployment simply because they were basing their projections on unemployment continuing to rise, a realistic assumption.

Compare the recent interview in The [London] Times, of Sir Gus O’Donnell regarding public spending cuts:

“Britain’s most senior civil servant has warned of sweeping cuts in some public services to maintain spending on key government programmes such as those dealing with care for the elderly, obesity and climate change.

“In an interview with The Times, Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, suggested that some departments would suffer more than others in the looming spending squeeze.

“Asked whether he agreed with a policy adopted in Canada, where spending was cut by 20 per cent and some departments had much deeper cuts than others, he said: ‘You could envisage a situation where you go for deeper dives on this, most certainly.'”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6715497.ece

The Conservatives – or, at least, Andrew Lansley – have been talking about ringfencing spending on the NHS. In contrast, Alistair Darling is signaling a reorientation of priorities in the NHS – which can cover up almost anything:

“In the health service resources had to be spent more effectively. One third of people in the UK had a chronic health condition and 70 per cent of spending was devoted to treating them. More money should be spent on preventing illness so that less needed to be spent on the cure, [Darling] said.”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6826241.ece

The sense I’m getting is an increasing political competition as to who can sound the most draconian about promising public spending cuts.

“Oborne welcomes this approach but wants the Tories to come clean ahead of the election.”

That would make a change. The call me Dave party telling the truth for once.

The Tories are even more right wing now than they were when they last had power. Call me Dave has just used the GWBush tactic of pretending to be more liberal.

The day after Bush was elected Cheney went to to congress and told them to forget all that stuff in the election, the govt would move to the far right . The Conservatives will do the same.

If the Labour and Liberals had a brain they would stop them, bust such is life.

“The Tories are even more right wing now than they were when they last had power.”

I agree with this with my take on it as follows: Cameron doesn’t have an agenda as such, and has no real agenda other than to make it to the top of the greasy pole. But, on arriving at the top of the pole, he will have to do things. There being no coherent “Cameronista” way of looking at problems, the only option will be a rusty Thatcherite ideology. His chief advisers will be City bankers and Murdoch tabloids, and the path of least resistance will always be to give them what they demand.

The only saving grace in this desperate prospect is that of the Scots voting to get out, which will hurt the Establishment profoundly. He might pretend otherwise, but if Scotland leaves, Cameron will deem his Prime Ministership a total failure.

I’m not sure that shadow chancellors are in a position to order permanent secretaries to do anything, so this story doesn’t quite ring true.

(Though the treasury should obviously be drawing up such plans anyway just in case.)

Nor am I sure that “GQ Politician of the Year” Osborne has the balls to do any such thing even if he could.

(If only he had!)

Put the shrewd old Tebbit in charge!

He’d halve the bloated Civil Service within a year!

[5] Sally – “That would make a change. The call me Dave party telling the truth for once.”

Compared to the current lot who cancelled the spending review and are putting everything off until AFTER the election. A shining example of truth and honesty there.

Mind, I get the sense there’s no point arguing here. You calling them the ‘call me Dave’ party shows you’re unlikely to vote for them no matter what they say, and I’m unlikely to ever vote Labour no matter what they say.

The idea that all government spending is investment will do labour no good at all.There are plenty of workng and middle class people who work or have worked in the private sector and have had contact with government employees who are grossly over remunerated( salary, index linked pension and holidays ) for what they do. The doubling of public expenditure has not doubled output. If labour had not created so many pointless administrative /white collar jobs ( RDAs, reports undertaken by management consultants, jobs in LAs which are pointless), then I think many people would have felt the money well spent. Of the 800,000 people put on the government pay roll ,how many are teachers, doctors, nurses, police officer, armed services personnel, prison officers, medical staff and how many are wasteful administrators ? How many useless IT projects have been started?

@10 Charlie

“The doubling of public expenditure has not doubled output”

And would you expect it to?

Public services are – in the main – labour intensive industries. Any economist would expect such an industry to increase in price relative to the rest of the economy (Baumol’s cost disease). For example, the price of classical music concerts has increased significantly since 1997 – as it is difficult to think of how a live orchestra can increase its productivity. Similarly with teaching.

Also, it is tremendously difficult to measure public service output. Indeed, for many services making up over a third of public sector output (e.g. police, defence, public administration), productivity growth is defined as zero because output just cannot be measured (how do you value ‘security’ and ‘public safety’ in the same way you value factory output?). Even those services (education, health) where some attempt is made to measure output suffer chronic measurement difficulties that make figures almost meaningless.

* For example, Labour have spent heavily on teaching assistants in primary schools – the government productivity figures currently record this has having not increased output at all (as children benefitting from this have not sat GCSEs yet – and education output is measured by number of children taught adjusted for GCSE points to proxy for quality).

* Another education example – is education output only attainment in GCSE and not e.g. “a broad social education” or teaching special needs kids who will never pass GCSEs (the current figures will record these 2 things as a complete waste of money with no output to).

* Also, the value of education output (e.g. the return to a GCSE) increases over time, which is not accounted for in the output figures

* Many people consider small class sizes to be of higher quality – the figures record investment to reduce class sizes a pure waste of money (hint: the government could double measured education productivity overnight by sacking half of teachers and doubling class sizes)

And even with these difficulties in measurement that bias measured public sector output downwards, public sector productivity has only decreased by 3% over the past 12 years (private sector productivity has increase approximately 10% over the same time period – though those figures are before the financial crash so heavily biased upwards as financial productivity was built on US sub-prime).

So long as you gloss over these chronic measurement difficulties, you can pretend you are right.

“Of the 800,000 people put on the government pay roll ,how many are teachers, doctors, nurses, police officer, armed services personnel, prison officers, medical staff and how many are wasteful administrators ”

There are 566,000 more public sector staff now than in 1997 (the following is taken from ONS Public Sector Employment Stats, NHS HCHS stats from the Information Centre for Health and Social Care, School Workforce in England Stats from DCSF, and Police Service Strength statistics from the Home Office)

*42,000 more doctors
* 85,000 more nurses
* 46,000 more qualified medical staff (e.g. therapists, scientists, paramedics)
* 41,000 more teachers
* 116,000 more teaching assistants
* 29,000 more police officers and community support officers

On the flip side there are:
* 49,000 more public administrators (including a whopping 6,000 more civil servants)
* 22,000 more civilian police workers
* 65,000 more workers supporting clinical NHS functions
* 17,000 more NHS managers
* 34,000 more “central support” in the NHS (e.g. cleaning and other functions to manage NHS infrastructure)

Though most of the latter will, of course, not be ‘paper shufflers’ but do essential front-line work (e.g. doctors, receptionists, managers, IT support, cleaning and so on). I’m sure you would call them all paper-shufflers as it will help your argument.

@11 Useful stats. Cheers.

Though most of the latter will, of course, not be ‘paper shufflers’ but do essential front-line work (e.g. doctors, receptionists, managers, IT support, cleaning and so on). I’m sure you would call them all paper-shufflers as it will help your argument.

I wouldn’t call them “paper-shufflers”, but it’s possible that failures in project management (among other things) have caused more work, as claimed by (for example) the chief executive of the Royal Free.

No doubt similar claims could be made of other failures in public sector projects that have gone over budget and/or schedule / failed to work as advertised.

@ukliberty

“I wouldn’t call them “paper-shufflers”, but it’s possible that failures in project management (among other things) have caused more work”

Possible, but that is likely to explain a minority of public sector employment growth.

It could be more plausible for procurement spend (most projects are now contracted out the massively more efficient and superior private sector).

A lot of people forget that over half of publicly-financed output is produced by the private sector (e.g. all stationary used by public sector, contracted out services, IT, facilities management etc). There has been a massive increase in the amount of publicly-financed work in the private sector in the last 12 years. This whole area is worthy of investigation by those looking for efficiencies (e.g. the whole contracting out of projects to private sector consultants and their mis-management of them and milking of the public sector for fees etc)

Though maybe there’s no problem with that. As I’ve been told by many right-wingers, publicly-financed work is generally only worthless, inefficient and wealth destroying when done by publicly-employed staff. Moving staff to the private sector is like waving a magic wand, when suddenly the work becomes productive and valuable, and contributes to wealth creation and prosperity. Or perhaps that’s just the limitations of their “private sector good, public sector bad” argument? Who knows?

sevillista,

Possible, but that is likely to explain a minority of public sector employment growth.

I have no idea how much growth it can explain, but I do know that the spend on NHS IT alone will be closer to £20bn than the ~£2bn originally publicised some years ago – i.e. an order of magnitude more.

This whole area is worthy of investigation by those looking for efficiencies (e.g. the whole contracting out of projects to private sector consultants and their mis-management of them and milking of the public sector for fees etc)

Failures aren’t only due to mis-management by private sector contractors. Here are the common causes of government IT project failure according to the Office for Government Commerce (OGC):

Lack of clear link between the project and the organisation’s key strategic priorities, including agreed measures of success.
Lack of clear senior management and Ministerial ownership and leadership.
Lack of effective engagement with stakeholders.
Lack of skills and proven approach to project management and risk management.
Lack of understanding of and contact with the supply industry at senior levels in the organisation.
Evaluation of proposals driven by initial price rather than long term value for money (especially securing delivery of business benefits).
Too little attention to breaking development and implementation into manageable steps.
Inadequate resources and skills to deliver the total portfolio.

I have several examples of Government IT Gone Wrong on my blog, and provide links to similar articles elsewhere, where you can see that time and again problems are indeed caused by the above.

Sure, the private sector has its problems, but often the public sector does not help.

Or perhaps that’s just the limitations of their “private sector good, public sector bad” argument? Who knows?

I don’t.

@ukliberty

“Failures aren’t only due to mis-management by private sector contractors”

I completely agree. But many are due to this – and it’s not just the IT e.g. consultants are often brought in at twice the money to do projects with the ability to charge expenses (something civil servants and local government officers who purchase their own tea-bags and milk out of their own pocket) are unable to do. Sometimes the outside view adds value and is probably worthwhile, other times it is completely dysfunctional and ideological. Focusing on procurement spend and cutting inefficiency in privately-delivered public sector output would provide fertile ground for an efficiency drive.

I would also note that big private sector IT projects also often end up with significant cost over-runs and implementation difficulties. It’s a problem of IT procurement both in the public and private sectors. The simple “public sector is inefficient and cocks it up” argument is, in my view, wrong.

Also, not sure how you would solve the skill issue you refer to re IT with the traditional right-wing medicine of cutting staff numbers (so reducing the skill base in the organisation), making pay less competitive with the private sector and cutting training budgets.

I’m glad to hear that someone is planning to cut the deficit – because otherwise this country is going to turn into a part of Latin America.

11.sevillista. H McRae of The Indy pointed out that Hong Kong educates children such that they came third in the international league table for scientific
knowledge and had the third lowest level of infant mortality; yet government expenditure is only 15% of GDP. Labour needs to show they have obtained value for money.

I would also note that big private sector IT projects also often end up with significant cost over-runs and implementation difficulties.

But my taxes don’t pay for British Gas’s (for example) cock-ups with their their accounting system.

Also, not sure how you would solve the skill issue you refer to re IT with the traditional right-wing medicine of cutting staff numbers (so reducing the skill base in the organisation), making pay less competitive with the private sector and cutting training budgets.

It’s not frontline staff I’m concerned about, indeed I believe they aren’t sufficiently listened to (“Lack of effective engagement with stakeholders”) – it’s their leaders I’m concerned about, who it seems to me often do things for political expediency rather than because they are the right things to do (“right things to do” include “let’s not make the same mistakes the OGC and NAO keep telling us we make with projects”).

@charlie

“H McRae of The Indy pointed out that Hong Kong educates children such that they came third in the international league table for scientific
knowledge and had the third lowest level of infant mortality; yet government expenditure is only 15% of GDP”

Are you seriously comparing the UK with Hong Kong?

Really?

I don’t know the Hong Kong government system well at all.

But I would hazard a guess that some of the reasons for low public spending would be:

1. Tiny state with a large financial system skews income significantly

2. South East Asian cultures value education highly – parents will pump all their disposable income into paying for private tuition and university fees, and force their children to spend all their time in study. Quite a different thing to work with as a teacher than British kids. Often this leads to cramming, unquestioning minds (especially as the propoganda must be swallowed to uphold their system of Goverment) and unrounded individuals – but you can’t have it all [BTW how much as a % of GDP do they spend on education?]

3. I’m sure the Chinese probably have a healthier diet than us. I’m not sure other reasons why health spend would be lower as a % of GDP [BTW how much as a % of GDP do they spend on health?]

4. I’m sure labour costs are significantly lower – are you suggesting that UK teachers, doctors and nurses are paid the same as their Chinese equivalents?

5. Hong Kong government is a lot smaller – the welfare state is significantly smaller (e.g. no unemployment insurance, sickness insurance, other support for the poor) etc. Requires very strict monitoring and control of political thought combined with very strict policing and laws and a court system that prevents discontent and poverty fermenting itself in political uprisings. Ignoring transfer payments, the UK government spends £330.562 billion on public services (ONS Blue Book 2009) out of GDP of £1,446.255 billion (or 22.9% of GDP). I suspect this accounts for a lot of the difference you see.

“Labour needs to show they have obtained value for money.”

You are right – they do need to better argue their case and demonstrate to the electorate they have obtained value for money. Not sure they’d get through the tabloid and Tory misinformation and the fact people have forgot just how crap public services were in 1997 after being starved of money though.

I would argue the evidence is there that they largely have (even the incomplete productivity stats that the ONS produces that ignore a number of dimensions of government output, do not adjust for quality very well, ignore time lags between spending and output, do not account for increasing value of output, and measure improved efficiency as reduced output suggest productivity has been largely static since 1997). Hardly unsurprising in necessarily labour-intensive services such as education and health, where the face-to-face relationship between teacher and pupil or doctor and patient reduces potential productivity gains.

I’d love to see the right-wingers produce hard stats that e.g. show massive productivity gains in private schools and private hospitals to demonstrate their case. Easier to just ignore subtleties and snipe though, as I suspect this evidence just does not exist.

@ukliberty

“But my taxes don’t pay for British Gas’s (for example) cock-ups with their their accounting system.”

No. You pay for that through a flat tax known as a gas bill (for example). Lucky you!

“it’s their leaders I’m concerned about”

And you are right to point to skills gaps in the public sector. When you pay less than the private sector at managerial grades, you are less likely to get the best staff, as many high quality people seem to prefer the extra money rather than the warm glow of public sevice. But the management consultants don’t seem to do much better anyway.

“But my taxes don’t pay for British Gas’s (for example) cock-ups with their their accounting system.”

No. You pay for that through a flat tax known as a gas bill (for example). Lucky you!

If I hear British Gas have cocked up, have been arsey about it, or are more expensive, I can be glad I’m with a company that seems a bit better. If they in turn get worse, I can look around for an alternative (there are several). There are few such choices in the public sector: if my government cocks up, I can’t choose another one; if my county council cocks up, I can move county… that’s pretty much it.

“it’s their leaders I’m concerned about”

And you are right to point to skills gaps in the public sector. When you pay less than the private sector at managerial grades, you are less likely to get the best staff, as many high quality people seem to prefer the extra money rather than the warm glow of public sevice. But the management consultants don’t seem to do much better anyway.

It’s not necessarily a case of listening to management consultants who are trying to take advantage or who are inadequate (or both), it’s a case of our beloved leaders only listening to people who agree with them – or not giving a crap whether our money is spent wisely or not.

Our leaders know that they won’t be punished for screwing up – well, not for four or five years, if at all. And we can’t just give them a month’s notice and move on.

I know you’re desperate not to publicly agree with me but I’m sure that, deep down inside, you do.

“There are few such choices in the public sector: if my government cocks up, I can’t choose another one”

What happens – to give a wild example – if our bankers cock up? Where do I go to choose a competent set of bankers?

What about train companies or the many private services that are granted a monopoly?

And where do you go with your argument? There’s a risk of Government projects failing just as there is in the private sector – should the lack of alternative choice mean the government should just not do anything? Civil servants are well known – and heavily criticised – for risk aversity. Is this any surprise given the apparent desire of some people to reduce risk to zero?

“it’s a case of our beloved leaders only listening to people who agree with them…I know you’re desperate not to publicly agree with me but I’m sure that, deep down inside, you do”

No. Still disagree. Government ministers do not get there hands dirty with the ins and outs of project management – and nor should they. Good project management requires good staff to do it. The public sector cannot compete on wages for the best managers – so they all disappear to the city to buy US sup-prime and be able to buy Porches and large houses in Hampstead. Is the solution to that to pay those in the public sector even less?

There’s a risk of Government projects failing just as there is in the private sector – should the lack of alternative choice mean the government should just not do anything?

Doing nothing is indeed a reasonable alternative to “let’s deploy an ID card and database” (for example). Why shouldn’t “doing nothing” be included in considerations?

Civil servants are well known – and heavily criticised – for risk aversity. Is this any surprise given the apparent desire of some people to reduce risk to zero?

There should be a cost-benefit analysis including a consideration of risks, how they can be mitigated, what new risks the project will introduce, and so on. If the pros are outweighed by the cons we shouldn’t go ahead with it. Simples.

Government ministers do not get there hands dirty with the ins and outs of project management…

I didn’t say or imply that they do. But they are often responsible for giving the go ahead and, later on, demanding the specification be changed in order to suit what is politically expedient that week.

Look, none of this is controversial stuff, it can be read in PAC, NAO, CO etc reports. Leaked emails can be educational too. To keep pointing at the private sector, moaning they have problems too, is to miss / ignore the point.

@ukliberty

“Doing nothing is indeed a reasonable alternative to “let’s deploy an ID card and database” (for example).”

That’s not quite what I meant. I meant “We’ve got a project with a positive BCR – but there’s a risk it’ll fail – let’s not bother”. You suggest you disagree with this approach later in your reply. Quite right.

Besides, on ID Cards, the database should be a very positive thing for productivity (reduces the number of officials required to collect and process information as it will only need to be collected one time only, and reduces burdens on services users to give the same information several times). Whether that balances out the impact on liberties or the risk associated with the IT project is the question.

“There should be a cost-benefit analysis including a consideration of risks, how they can be mitigated, what new risks the project will introduce, and so on. If the pros are outweighed by the cons we shouldn’t go ahead with it. Simples.”

And that’s what happens – except I guess risky projects are often not pursued (or pursued painfully slowly) because of the political impact of things going wrong. You’re just pretending if you think these project management skills are not used as a matter of course in the public sector. Sometimes the potential risk emerges due to factors beyond the projects direct control. This happens in the private sector too.

“I didn’t say or imply that they do. But they are often responsible for giving the go ahead and, later on, demanding the specification be changed in order to suit what is politically expedient that week.”

That’s true. But it happened under the previous administration, happens in local government, will happen under the future administration and happens in the private sector too. Often politicians (or senior executives in the private sector) don’t understand the impact their decisions may have on the project. Though the democratic process needs to be taken account of. The institutional arrangements are being built, and will need to keep evolving to try and further improve risk management.

“To keep pointing at the private sector, moaning they have problems too, is to miss / ignore the point.”

That’s not what I’m doing though is it. It’s just the pretence that the public sector is somehow uniquely bad is a false one (and it is often the private sector managing it anyway). Large IT projects (and it’s often IT projects we are talking about) are often risky, often deadlines slip and costs escalate. And I think you over-emphasise the role politicians play in screwing up projects.

It will certainly be more difficult to get the skills to manage complex projects if the Conservative’s wet dreams of cutting public sector salaries and conditions to satisfy their ideological desires come true and managerial pay slips further behind the private sector.

You’re just pretending if you think these project management skills are not used as a matter of course in the public sector. … It’s just the pretence that the public sector is somehow uniquely bad is a false one (and it is often the private sector managing it anyway). Large IT projects (and it’s often IT projects we are talking about) are often risky, often deadlines slip and costs escalate. And I think you over-emphasise the role politicians play in screwing up projects.

I’m grateful to have a discussion here that hasn’t descended into abuse but please argue with what I wrote rather than what you think I wrote.

*And often they go wrong because they are thought of as IT projects rather than business change projects.)

“There is no real incentive to get it right. Senior Responsible Owners, ministers and permanent secretaries come and go. There have been countless civil service and ministerial leaders of the NHS’s IT scheme. Project committees are not accountable for their decisions.” – Tony Collins, Computer Weekly

These aren’t trivial sums we’re talking about. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands, millions, and billions of pounds.

From the recent evidence linked to below: “The NAO found, paragraph 3.17, at the end of October £161 million had been spent but they were unable to determine what the money had been spent on.”

(Related to that is the appalling financial management at the Home Office and DWP to name but two departments.)

As for the idiot ID card scheme, as they couldn’t get C-NOMIS right (some shocking oral evidence here) perhaps we can breath a small sigh of relief for now… except it’s going to cost well over £5bn just to set up the damn thing, let alone run it (i.e. let departments and organisations other than DWP and HO ‘access’ it).

The NAO has said “these are the common causes of project failure…” so why can’t Ministers buckle down and make sure they and their subordinates don’t make those mistakes again.

Let’s stop IT projects born from political hubris (NHS IT programme, thanks Tony) and those for which there is no business case or cost-benefit analysis (ID cards). Perhaps make projects smaller or think about them in a different way (medical records could have been done rather differently). Do we really need things like the “flagship elearning project UKeU” (cost £62m and abandoned after attracting only 900 students).

They need to get some accountability, openness and transparency, listen to those who disagree with them, read those NAO and PAC reports, and instead of knee-jerk denials (e.g) just get on with solving the problems they point out.

Until that happens our money will continue to be pissed away and I don’t think it is hyperbole to say that some of these projects risk people’s lives.

If they haven’t got the skills then train staff, hire new staff, or don’t do the project.


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