Parliament's Public Accounts Committee has said that Whitehall departments are not routinely checking value for money and applying financial penalties for poor performance. In a report on central government's management of service contracts, the committee says that although most departments monitor the performance of IT …
Oh what a surprise
could that be jobs for the labour boys? Nice little earners when they leave office?
This should be fun
Government procurement takes a long time, relatively small contracts can take several years to let, by which time the the business and political landscape has changed, thus the costs and outcomes defined in the contract have changed. Thus, contract managers are faced with three choices, they can either relax the contract conditions and deliver something that fits the current need and is within their budgetary envelope, they can let their IT supplier change control the hell out of them and trouser serious amounts of money for changing the contract, or they can cancel the contract and put it out to tender again.
So lets assume you take one of the first two options, well, your contract and requirements have all been defined for you by external consultants who have charged you an arm and a leg to develope a requirement. All these wise and mature graduates supplied at exorbitant rates by an even more limited number of business consultancies all leave when the contract is let,. so you actually don't know what the author of the requirement really meant when they wrote the requirement and have to rely on an agreed interpretation between yourself and the IT company.
And it gets more complicated that, but I won't bore you with the details. Hindsight is 20/20, I'd love to see the PAC actually come and run a project for real.
The real story is that this isn't news
Where have the PAC been for 20 years?
This is routine. Departments are praised for getting in the private sector and forming "partnerships" (tres LOL). They are criticised for playing hardball because the external account managers schmooze gullible Number 10 sound-bite mongers.
If this is the extent of their understanding (a cross-government SIG? another one? who measured the effects of the last one?) nothing will change.
Remember when the NHS was praised for letting billions in contracts? And then castigated for exactly the same reason? If it wasn't my money I'd be laughing like a drain.
The expertise to take an informed decision on IT has been outsourced to the very industry it was supposed to manage so it's entertaining the PAC only now decides to spot this. Change of political masters ahead, perchance?
It's a bit like asking a consultancy to do a feasibility study on something, with them receiving the job afterwards. The result of such a feasibility study would not be hard to predict. Maybe that's what happened to ID Cards?
Government Procurement Service
Who knew one existed?
So what is it that government contract managers do do, exactly?
... if they don't check what's delivered, and don't enforce the contract? And how do I get a safe job where I get a civil service pension for doing nothing?
So do something.
We see these comments constantly. If it isn't PAC it's NAO, if it isn't NAO it's some other committee. Does anything ever actually get done? Does it hell. EDS gets more contracts, so does Cap Gemini and so do every other parasitic IT supplier in the market. How many cock-ups will it actually take before anything gets done? And if the answer is "it never will" then tell me what use the NAO and PAC actually are.
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