Friday, May 16, 2008

While We Were Away...


Gordo campaigning in Crewe and Nantwich

BOM correspondents have been keeping an eye on things, and draw attention to the following:


No proper business case for ID Cards Scheme

"The government has, for the first time, admitted publicly that it cannot justify its controversial £5.4bn National Identity Scheme in financial terms.

The admission came from James Hall, chief executive of the Identity & Passport Service, in a
response to the report from the scheme's external watchdog, the Independent Scheme Assurance Panel, published this week.

Hall said, "Many of these benefits [of the NIS] may be hard to quantify and potentially harder to articulate in financial terms within the scheme business case."
(Computer Weekly 8.5.08)

Glancing through the ISAP report itself reveals the usual catalogue of disasters waiting to happen:
  • No clear plans for "data governance" - ie sensitive personal data is likely to get lost/left at bus-stops/posted to the mafia, as per

  • No confidence that data can actually be integrated as the scheme demands

  • No clear priorities for tackling the work

  • Scheme driven by technology rather than need

  • No user engagement

  • No business case

  • No statement of how our data will be protected and what redress we have when it's not

We've blogged these half-baked ID cards many times (see BOM's cost primer here and other ID blogs here). And the best independent estimate of its cost is not £5.4bn, but £10-19bn (LSE expert panel).

(HTP Man In A Shed)



£15m for useless NHS survey

"The Department of Health is blowing £15 million on a survey to find out what people think of the NHS - after getting just 1,500 replies to its first questionnaire. The amount being spent would pay for an extra 1,000 nurses for a year.

The Healthcare for London review was supposed to reveal what the capital's 7.5million residents wanted the Health Service to improve on. After getting the funding from the Government, officials sent out surveys and questionnaires, produced CDs and placed adverts in newspapers. But just 0.02 per cent of Londoners bothered to write back with an opinion.

That has cost £1million so far - and officials plan to spend another £14million on further consultations and presentations to put their message across." (Sunday Mirror 24.2.08)

This whole nonsense was dreamed up by Lord Khazi as yet another Big Conversation. But as BOM's correpondent points out, given that it's been a total flop so far, you'd think even our gormless Commissars would pull the plug after the initial mill rather than press on with the other £14m.

Actually, the "conversation" website - Healthcare for London - has some very interesting comments and suggestions posted on it by ordinary punters.

Like the one from a web designer who's disgusted at the waste involved in being paid by the DoH to do four different designs for different NHS trusts. Or Tina, who despairs that nothing's done to stop all the health tourism she routinely sees at the Whittington and the Royal Free. Or Zoe, who suggests all medical staff should be able to speak intelligible English - not currently the situation at the Royal Free. Etc etc.

We suggest you look quickly before all such comments are expunged.

(HTP Nicholas G)



£2.5bn pa shredded on useless business services

"Britain's multibillion-pound system of business support is "out of control" and should be radically reformed... Some 3,000 individual schemes, delivered by 2,000 different agencies and costing more than £2.5bn a year, should have to prove their worth or be closed down.

Doug Richard, the taskforce's chairman, said the system was so "bewildering" that around two-thirds of the money was spent simply telling businesses where to find advice and what grants are available. A third of the money spent on regional support schemes was lost to administration." (Telegraph 13.5.08)

Sure, the taskforce in question is working for the Tories. But as our correspondent notes, nobody who's ever had contact with the We're from the Government and We're Here to Help team will doubt its findings.

Let's just hope the Tories take proper note and wield the Big Axe on Day One.

(HTP HJ)

SOCA not quite FBI

We've blogged the Serious Organised Crimes Agency (SOCA) several times, not least for its ludicrous £164 grand Thundercats logo (eg see here).

Launched by Tone in 2006 in a blaze of publicity as Britain's FBI, it's useless. Many of its 148 hand-picked experienced cops have already given up on it, either retiring or going back to normal policing. And they've been blowing the gaff to the press. "A source" said:

"The experienced police officers are leaving in droves owing to management inefficiencies and incompetence and we are being left with a lot of very clever analysts and the like who wouldn’t know a Mr Big if he pulled out a gun and pointed it at their heads."

SOCA has a chairman, a director-general, a ten-member board of directors, and 31 deputy directors. But now no proper coppers.

And in its two years of existence it's successfully prosecuted a Mrs Trellis for double parking in Oswestry, and almost got a Mr M Mouse for dropping litter in Bexhill.

That's it.

(HTP SJT)


£1m to protect non-existent newts

"A council spent £1 million protecting a colony of rare newts on a building site only to discover that none lived there.

Leicestershire County Council delayed a major road-building scheme for three months after evidence of great crested newts was found on the site. The species is protected by law, but after the authority paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for special newt-fencing and traps, not one of the rare creatures was discovered.

The action was taken on the strength of a report from environmental experts." (Telegraph 16.5.08)

Yup, it's those pesky "environmental experts" again (see previous blogs eg here). Maybe next time they could consult some commonsense experts - Tyler hereby volunteers his own services pro bono.

(HTP Swivel-eyes)

PS The Chairman Mao poster is taken from an excellent site sent us by A Reader. It's called Cultural Revolution Artifacts and it's stuffed with goodies. Among other things, Tyler discovered an original 1964 Little Red Book now retails from $2500. As it happens, Tyler has an original LRB, obtained by writing to the Chinese Embassy back in 1967. Tyler Senior was most concerned when he found out, reckoning his son would henceforth be "on file". Which on reflection, quite possibly explains those Stop and Search incidents (see here and here). Sadly, it turns out Tyler's copy is the worthless 1967 paper tiger edition.

1 comment:

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