Well now Sir John "You Can't Help Laughing" Bourn has issued the National Audit Office's latest set of notices on the whole Gershon gig.
This is the NAO's second full review of Gordo's so-called efficiency programme, and they now say:
- 26 per cent (£3.5 billion) of the £13.3 billion reported efficiency savings fairly represent efficiencies made;
- 51 per cent (£6.7 billion) represent efficiency but carry some measurement issues and uncertainties; and,
- 23 per cent (£3.1 billion) may represent efficiency gains but the measures used either do not yet demonstrate efficiency or the reported gains may be substantially incorrect.
Translation- only a quarter of the claimed gains are demonstrably correct.
We've covered the various statistical shenanigans used by departments to manufacture their non-existent gains at some length in previous posts- eg including efficiency measures put in place before the programme began, setting inconsistent baselines, not counting the associated costs such as enabling IT, not assessing- still less counting- the impact on quality of services, etc etc.
And the NAO finds all those ploys still in widespread use.
They also find examples of supposed savings being significantly offset by consequential losses, which are not counted. Take for example the Department of Health's wheeze to slash the cost of in-patient hospital stays by kicking brain surgery patients out into the snow as soon as they come round from the anaesthetic. Guess what- if you kick patients out early, a higher proportion have to be readmitted as expensive emergency patients soon afterwards:
Still, it's not all bad news Gershonwise: some of those early discharges must just die, and that would save quite a bit of dosh (see the Doc's Modest Proposal of yesterday, along similar lines).Are you laughing yet?