Saturday, June 16, 2007

Updates On Running Sores


We blogged the EU's satnav system here. It's Europe's attempt to build a rival to the US owned Global Positioning System, and the costs are escalating wildly.

This week, Euro Commissars confirmed what we feared: taxpayers are being tapped for a further £1.6bn on top of the £0.9bn already seized. That's because- surprise surprise- the commercial users that were supposed to stump up the cash have decided this grandiose final frontier effort won't actually make any money. Except for those lucky euro aerospace contractors, that is.

Stand by for more healthy salami slices heading for taxpayers' plates.

HMRC Simple Shopper IT fiasco

As we blogged here, the Simple Shoppers at HM Revenue and Customs shelled out £53m of our money paying contractors to bid for their IT business. That just doesn't happen in the real world, where if they want the work, contractors pay for their own bids.

It now seems that winning contractor Capgemini will reap profits of an eye-watering £1.1 billion, over four times more than the original estimated amount. PAC Chairman Edward Leigh says:

"The department should have foreseen that its demand for IT services could vary significantly and determined how this might affect its contractor's prices and profit margins. These will have to be rigorously benchmarked in future to make sure the prices fairly reflect the actual volume of work being carried out."

We won't hold our breath.

National Black Police Association

In April we blogged the Home Office probe into dodgy books at the National Black Police Association (£180 grand pa of taxpayers' money). We now discover the NBPA has issued cheques worth £40,000 with no recorded payee, purchased two satellite navigation systems, costing £1,400, and made financial loans, including one of £14,693. Flowers worth £44 were ordered without any evidence as to why, and other expenditure totalling £385 was made on a trip to Zimbabwe.

Apparently, there's "no suggestion of embezzlement but the report questions what it calls the “appropriate distribution of expenditure”.


ID Cards

We've blogged the prospective £20bn cost of ID cards many times (eg see here). But since the government has said the cards themselves will cost no more than £30, they have to find some other source of funding. General taxpayers will be forced to stump up the bulk of it, as we all know, but hiking the cost of passports will also help.

Which is why the government has just hiked the price of a ten year passport to £72. That's an increase of 70% in less than two years, and 200% since Labour came to power.

If it moves, tax it.

Sir John Bourn

Absolutely nothing to report. For the reasons explained here, we're waiting for the NAO head to fall on his sword. Not only has he not done so, but his "boss", the normally voluble Sir Edward Leigh has also been keeping awfully quiet.

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