Thursday, October 15, 2009

Old Friends Still Burning Away

You'll be grateful for this soon

No time for a proper blog today, but a few of BOM's old friends are back in the news.

1 Defence procurement

The Gray report has finally been published (see previous blog here).

"The review by Bernard Gray, a former adviser to the Ministry of Defence, highlighted that the defence equipment programme is currently hugely overheated and suffers from perverse incentives that encourage delay and spiralling costs. On average programmes overrun by about five years and costs increase by about £300m. Meanwhile the “frictional costs” to industry and the MoD created by systemic delays add up to between £900m and £2.2bn each year."

Shocking. In fact, things are so dire, Gray recommends outsourcing the entire MOD equipment procurement programme.

But if the government can't even organise the procurement of kit for Her Majesty's armed forces - a core function of the state - HTF does anyone think they are capable of procuring other more complex things? Like education and health services, say.

2. Rural Payments Agency

We've blogged the fiasco at the Rural Payments Agency many times (eg see here). Now the National Audit Office has issued an updated report:

"The agency is in such disarray that it now costs more than £1,700 to process each claim.

Thousands of farmers have been underpaid, leaving many on the edge of collapse, while others face demands for cash to be repaid years later because of overpayments.

The European Union has already fined the agency £75 million and is threatening to withdraw a further £205 million from the UK for failing to administer payments correctly.

Failures in the computer system and extra staff costs to sort out the mess have cost £304 million. Overpayments to farmers that are not recovered will cost at least £43 million. Farmers themselves have lost more than £50 million trying to fill in complicated forms and chase late payments."

As you will doubtless recall, this all came about because the ministerial team at Defra - headed by one Mags Beckett, and including Ben Bradshaw and Jim Knight - ordered the RPA to implement a farm subsidy system of such hideous complexity that nobody else in Europe even attempted it.

Value-added, it ain't.

A point you may wish to remember when Mags gets her peerage.

3. F-freezing to death

As you will have spotted over the weekend, the energy regulator Ofgem reckons we're heading for massive electricity price hikes and blackouts.

Apparently, it's the inevitable result of the government's programme to turn Britain green by closing down our power stations and not building any new ones.

So who asked them to do this?

Well, the bonkers hippies.

Them, yes, and... er... ah, the BBC, of course.

I listened today to a BBC R4 programme called Costing the Earth, which reported approvingly on how the hippies storm those horrid power stations and dissuade power companies from building any new ones.

Apparently, we don't need them.


I'm off to bed.

Which is where we'll all be spending our evenings once the blackouts start.

1 comment:

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