Update On Running Sores


The BBC's the one on the left and the RPA's in the middle

Updates on two of the running sores causing taxpayers so much discomfort:

1. BBC

The BBC has been panicked into axing its Comic Relief-style special about climate change. A spokesperson says:

"The BBC is committed to programmes about climate change but after Live Earth what audiences say is they are looking for programmes of a documentary or factual nature to explain the complex subject."

But if audiences want facts, they are most unlikely to get them from the blinkered BBC. As you will recall, the BBC's officially stated position is:

"The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus."

You and I may know that consensus is far from secure (eg see here), but the BBC likes it, so they use our money to promote it. We wonder what the dire micro-audience Live Earth cost us.

2. Rural Payments Fiasco

The Public Accounts Committee has finally issued its report on the Rural Payments Agency fiasco over the implementation of the EU's new farm subsidy system (see many previous blogs eg here).

The report lists 15 catastrophic howlers- everything from huge overcomplexity, to inexperienced low grade staff, to lack of planning, to rubbish IT, to disconnected secretive management. It's a useful if teeth grinding catalogue of virtually every management failure Whitehall routinely serves up.

Cost? The implementation project itself cost us £122m - 50% over budget- EU fines for bogging up will cost us £436m, and payments to the failed ex-head of the RPA (to get rid of him) cost us £219,000. Call it £0.6bn.

Other snippets-

    • despite the unfolding disaster, the head of the RPA was actually paid a "performance bonus" of £21,000 in 2004-05 (see this blog on the broader public sector bonus farce);

    • of those responsible, only Johnston McNeill, the RPA's removed CEO, paid any price at all: and even he only got "removed from post"- ie paid off. According to the PAC report, "no member of staff [has] received an official warning or been subject to any other disciplinary action over the project’s failure"

  • Defra's Secretary of State subsequently got promoted to be Foreign Secretary, and Defra's Permanent Secretary, the unfortunately monikered Sir Brian Bender, got moved to run the equally useless DTI.

We couldn't ask for a more blatant example of power without responsibility.

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