Sunday, 17 October 2010
Tea for the Tillerman
It is a total betrayal of our democratic rights that the Coitus Government (they fuck you; they fuck each other), we elected in May, has abolished in its bonfire of quangos the Union Modernisation Fund Supervisory Board (UMFSB).
The what ? I hear you ask.The Union Modernisation Fund Supervisory Board, I respond. Let its glorious name reverberate through the land, stirring true English hearts of oak to down tools in selfless support of their Gallic co quangoists.
The UMFSB is to be no more. This august body which scrutinised bids for taxpayers money" to support innovative modernisation projects which contribute to a transformational change in the organisational effectiveness of a trade union. ...seeking to enhance the ability of trade unions to meet the needs of their members and to make an effective contribution to constructive employment relations and the economy as a whole"...ceases to be.
No more will its members debate the merits of the British Dental Association's "Young Members Participation and Engagement: Exploring the Needs of Today and Tomorrow" project as compared with the equally worthy T&G's " Preparing opinion - formers for information and consultation" exercise.
After 5 years of huge innovation the Union Modernisation Fund has been scrapped - which explains why the Board supervising it is kaput. So not exactly a major faggot on the quango bonfire.
We all know that Government is inefficient - right? If a civil servant can spend £10 rather than £5 he'll spend £10. That's what the US's TEA party's about - cut taxes, cut inefficiencies; give the hard working workers a break.
Enter, Sir Peter Green (of Fleetwood Mac by the Cam); sorry I mean that great entrepreneur Sir Philip Green of Arcadia. Sir Philip's review of Government purchasing is scathing about civil servants' inability to buy a pencil let alone manage a multi-billion pound estate.
It has taken Sir Pee less that 3 months to analysis the malaise that is government purchasing. I agree with him that it's a dog's dinner. Each department is responsible for its own purchasing decisions - Sir P found that this led to frightful inconsistencies. One department would pay less than half that paid by another department for the same good or service. He identified lack of cost control, poor information, which lead to inconsistencies in purchasing.
He doesn't recommend centralising all the purchasing, except when dealing with the civil service estate. He does see greater responsibility and much better information and control as essential. He sees a problem with IT sourcing and contracting where he thinks departments sign up for inappropriate terms and periods. He gives numerous examples of grossly inefficient procurement and much of this in his view is due to devolved responsibility and lack of data.
Oh dear. If he read any of the back papers, Sir Pee doesn't let on. If he had he'd have known about the inglorious history of the Property Services Agency (PSA) - Government's central purchaser of office accommodation - until it imploded in the 1980's
The PSA became a bye word for disaster in the Civil Service. It was inefficient, corrupt and useless. To illustrate my point: in the 1980's there was a proposal to build a top notch conference centre in the heart of London. The Queen Elizabeth 2 Conference Centre was supposed to be "la crème de la crème". PSA were in charge of the feasibility study, contracting and supervising the build.
It got built right enough, except at the time there was little demand for a conference centre. PSA ended up going round government depts touting for business. Also, the business case came up with a positive NPV so it went ahead: except they'd forgotten to factor in the running costs of the Centre which meant that once built the Centre ran at a loss.
So Sir Pee's idea of centralised property management raises more questions than answers.
Mind you HM Treasury isn't blameless. They would have had to agree the contract and run the ruler over the figures. They didn't pick up on the running costs howler.
And these are the people fixing the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review settlement to be announced this Wednesday.