Oct 4, 2012
The West Coast main line procurement has fallen apart in spectacular fashion. Investigations are under way and three civil servants have been suspended. No doubt this is intended as an early sign of how seriously this will all be taken.
Or is it something else as well – an early indicator of misdirection? Note the interesting words of the Transport Secretary that the “fault lies wholly and squarely” with the department.
Of course the department bears that accountability. In fact, it’s clearly traceable right up to a minister. That’s how these things work.
But there’s more to it than this. Others are involved in complex programmes of this nature. Many others. I know. I used to be one of them.
The procurement has legal advisers, financial modellers, benefits realisers, analysts, budget planners, investment appraisers, change consultants and many, many more. Some from external professional services firms, some as “independent” contractors, and all paid a vast amount for their expertise.
The kaleidoscopic language is one reason, in my view, why simply releasing single line “open” information that X project cost £Y can never truly convey a sense of what’s going on. But I digress.
When these things go wrong, there seems to be a frantic scurrying for cover for anyone whose brand is anywhere near the failure.
It’s amusing (in a sad way) to compare this description of one project with the rather more pertinent analysis from Campaign4Change. A little more searching around the subject suggests there’s been some distinct brandwashing going on.
I mean, here’s a peculiar search result, wouldn’t you say?
In the FiReControl/PA case, Tony Collins was bang on the money. But should it be left to journalists and campaigners to ask these hard questions long after all the official reports? Those who have the politicians in their studios right now should be doing it as well. From the start.
Who was involved? How much were they paid?
And will they be allowed to scuttle away with both their money and their reputation intact?