Friday, July 21, 2006

Gershon Meets The Secret Squirrels

We've blogged the surreal Gershon "efficiency" programme so often everyone's getting bored. But yesterday's damning PAC Report is a reminder 0f just how crass the whole thing is (see here for our blog on the PAC meeting concerned):

  • "The great majority of projects carry a high or medium risk of reported gains not representing real efficiencies....reported efficiency gains should continue to be considered as provisional and subject to further verification
  • At the start around 180 of the 300 major projects lacked reduced to just over 100.
  • Claimed efficiencies do not take into account the costs incurred in achieving them... Most of the efficiency projects require up-front investment in order to achieve the benefits in the longer term and many will entail on-going running costs
  • Most of the projects already existed before the Programme was launched
  • Greater assurance is needed that the quality of public services is not being adversely affected
  • Less than half of reported efficiencies will release cash
  • The Programme has received two red Gateway Reviews and remains at high risk"

On the last point, the PAC points out that 80% of the £21.5bn supposed savings are projected to come from less than 20% of the projects. So the whole programme is highly exposed to those particular projects failing.

At the same time, we know that none of the programmes is rated (by the Office for Government Commerce) as having a "good" chance of success, whereas the proportion rated as "highly problematic" (ie forget it) is creeping up:

This is an important issue, and as Britain's principal public watchdog on the use of taxpayers' funds, PAC asked which departments have been rated as "problematic". But the government refused point blank to tell them. The Secret Squirrels defence was wheeled out, on the argument that OGC's ratings are confidential "policy advice" rather than "facts".

Facts? Facts? Que?

We think the Squirrels are confusing themselves now. As far as we're aware, there are no actual facts involved in any aspect of Gershon. We thought everybody agreed on that.

So if they're going to use that defence, perhaps Gordo would do us all a big favour and shut up about the whole wretched thing.


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