Friday, February 16, 2007

Beware Of Experts

"Beware of experts, they built the Titanic."

Big Government always trusts experts, and this government has been more trusting than any since... ooh, since the last socialist government.

Right from 1997, they've hired experts in every conceivable field, in the primitive belief that "The Answer" is somewhere out there if only they spend enough taxpayers' money tracking it down.

Of course, the main beneficiaries have been the consultants, with annual billings now approaching £3bn.

The issue was the subject of that damning NAO report before Xmas (see this blog), now followed up by the Public Accounts Committee grilling the retiring head of the Office for Government Commerce, John Oughten (see transcript here).

In truth, we learned little new, although PAC member Don Touhig did at least slip in the line about experts and the Titanic.

As we noted last month, flesh-eating consultants against the Simple Shoppers of Whitehall was never a fair contest, and PAC members were predicatably aghast. Overpaying, and underdemanding, the public sector has been a consultants' dream. No wonder Richard Bacon was left spluttering:

"To me the most shocking single sentence in this report is "It is not possible to make an overall assessment of the benefits that have arisen from the money spent on consultants, in part because departments rarely collect any information on what has been achieved".

To which Mr Oughten's only reply was "That is right".

Well, Mr O, it sure doesn't sound right to us.

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