More teeth-rattling frustration from the Whitehall Mandarinity. A report from the Public Accounts Committee says that a huge project to replace benefit claims system paperwork with a magnetic stripe card -- one of the first Private Finance Initiatives -- has wasted a billion pounds of our hard-won cash. And, presumably, left the benefits system in whatever mess it was in beforehand.
How many schemes like this are going on? Countless hundreds. Whitehall cannot do IT, and the Government doesn't even know enough to spot this.
I propose a simple solution. Like jury service, anyone with qualifications or experience of IT, especially managerial, and most especially senior managerial, should have to put in a month a year working for the state on projects unconnected with their companies. There'll be bonuses for good work, a league table of success and failure (probably a bigger motivator for senior bods than extra dosh), and much more openness.
IT is just too important to leave to the underpaid harassed masses in the government departments, the vulture-like consultants who prey on them and the flabby overseers who care about nothing except plausible deniability. Time for a new philosophy of government, in fact -- where are the great thinkers when you need them?