Friday, August 18, 2006
In June we blogged the Public Accounts Committee session on the National Audit Office's probe into the NHS supercomputer- the National Programme for IT. As we noted:
"Given the disastrous nature of the whole NPfIT enterprise, it was surprising the NAO report was not more critical. Had the NAO been nobbled by the Department of Health? All NAO reports have to be agreed with the department concerned, and the PAC Chairman said he’d heard this one had been fought over “street by street, block by block”. Another highlighted Nicholas Timmin’s assessment in the FT that it had been “the fiercest Whitehall battle for years".
When MPs grilled him, the head of the NAO- the entirely splendid Comptroller and Auditor General Sir John Bourn- batted away all suggestions of nobbling.
But now the BBC has FOI'd the original draft of his report before the Department of Health got its grubby paws on it. And guess what- it turns out DoH smoothed down all kinds of wrinkles, even managing to get one particularly awkward section (about the NHS lacking the skills to implement the new system) excised altogether.
In some ways it doesn't matter, because despite the smoothing the Report actually remained deeply critical (see previous blog). But we can't help thinking there should be a point at which the NAO says- as it does with dodgy departmental accounts- "here's the report, but we can't sign it off". It would then be in the PAC's hands to extract the truth from the department- under torture as required.
Posted by Mike D at 2:41 pm